In a move long overdue, the traffic police in Thimphu will introduce a new measure in dealing with motorists who violate traffic rules.

They will begin slapping stickers on the windshields of vehicles they find in violation of the rules.  For instance, a car that is double parked on the highway and causing a traffic jam with the driver nowhere in sight should qualify for such a sticker. Additionally, the traffic official will also take pictures of the vehicle to use as evidence.

The driver or the owner of the vehicle will then have three days to report to the traffic police headquarters to presumably pay a fine or receive a warning.

There will be some who will complain, perhaps about the number of days required to report to the traffic police, or on some other grounds, but the traffic police must stand firm. This is a measure long required.

The traffic congestion in our towns, especially Thimphu is getting worse. One of the factors contributing to it is the lack of discipline and courtesy displayed by some drivers. It’s not unusual to find drivers who think that using the emergency or hazard lights allows them to park anywhere and cause traffic jams. It’s also becoming more common to find vehicles blocked in by other vehicles that result in long periods of honking or the traffic police official blowing a whistle to find the culprit driver.

It’s a cat and mouse game and the offender will repeat. Such drivers deserve a sticker and a fine to prevent a recurrence. We need discipline on our roads, not only because it is leading to congestion but because it increases the risk to other vehicles and pedestrians.

While we welcome this new development in enforcement, there are other areas that require urgent attention.

One is the lack of parking spaces in the urban areas. The thromde or dzongkhag must ensure that adequate parking spaces is provided for by building owners to prevent people from parking on our highways. There is also a need for assistance in designing parking areas so that spaces are optimally used in an ordered fashion.

Road design, so that it allows traffic to flow smoothly, also needs attention. With traffic increasing, there is a need to re-think the rules on lane-driving. Besides clearly designating lanes with markers, it is also high time that our drivers and designers are educated and exposed to international standards so that traffic flows smoothly and safely. For instance, we should use the right lane if we intend to turn right, or the left to turn left. At the moment, we’re taught to use the left lane and right to overtake. It’s not working. There’s much confusion on the roads.

We hope the traffic police’s new measure is the beginning of bringing some much needed order on our roads.