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Road rage in summer, drunk in winter: How seasons hit drivers

Ten-year data of traffic offences collated by the Delhi traffic police shows that violations such as jumping red lights and even road rage rise during the summer season. Similarly, during winter, there is a surge in cases of vehicular collisions and drink-driving.

delhi Updated: Dec 17, 2018 08:22 IST
Soumya Pillai
Soumya Pillai
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
traffic offence,weather,Study
Road safety experts agree that some traffic offences have a ‘seasonal nature’.(HT/Picture for representation)

The next time you are caught by a traffic constable for speeding through a traffic signal or are booked for getting into a screaming match with another driver, you can safely blame it on the weather.

Ten-year data of traffic offences collated by the Delhi traffic police shows that violations such as jumping red lights and road rage rise during the summer. Similarly, during winter, there is a surge in cases of vehicular collisions and drink-driving.

A study by the University of Western Australia released earlier this year drew similar conclusions: weather conditions affect the type of traffic offences.

The study, conducted with traffic data from Perth, showed cases of speeding and signal jumping escalated every year between January and February -- the hottest months of the year in the southern hemisphere -- when the temperature hovers in the range of 31 to 35 degrees Celsius.

In Delhi, too, a similar trend has been observed. From 1-10 cases every month in the non-summer period, average road rage cases between April and July (a period when the temperature rises to as high as 45 degrees Celsius), went up to 30 a month.

During winter (December to February), cases of road rage subside but those of vehicular collisions peak. According to the data, collision cases recorded during the rest of the year fluctuated between 30 and 50 a month while in December-February the average monthly figure reached as high as 128.

Experts in the national capital agree that the relationship between driver behaviour and extremities in weather has been established through several studies and observations.

Dr Rajesh Sagar, professor of psychiatry at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), said harsh weather conditions affect human behaviour severely. Driving being a process that involves high concentration levels automatically gets affected by weather changes, he said.

“In cities with extreme weather conditions, this trend can be observed very clearly. The heat and humidity outside often make the driver irritable and angry. Even a minor instigation can lead to drivers losing their cool,” Sagar said.

During winter months, lower temperatures lead to a decrease in concentration levels, he said. This, he added, is made worse by difficult conditions such as low visibility and inadequate safety equipment in vehicles.

Road safety experts agree that some traffic offences have a “seasonal nature”.

“Enforcement agencies need to come up with more stringent awareness campaigns for these specific offences, to help drivers cope with their tendencies. Frequent reminders to themselves always help regain control,” said Prabhu Kumar, a road safety and driver behaviour expert.

A traffic police official said they are focusing on awareness campaigns to deter violations. “We have been concentrating on awareness programmes and practices such as placing pictures of their loved ones on their car dashboards to calm them against rage. For offenders who are caught, we have special sessions by experts,” said Alok Kumar, joint commissioner of police (traffic).

First Published: Dec 17, 2018 07:16 IST