Roaring vehicles, honking take a toll on traffic police

Kishore Shinde stands amid a sea of deafening vehicles, raucous horns and shrieking tyres for 12 hours every day. After his work day is done, this police naik of the Deccan Gymkhana traffic division finds it hard to make conversation or even hold back from lashing out during a petty argument.

The average noise level at a busy traffic junction in the city is around 70-80 decibels, which exceeds the recommended noise norms.

Monitoring agencies said that the pollution caused by only vehicular horns outdoes all the prescribed norms. This exposes all people on the road to a wide range of health issues -including cardio-vascular diseases, high blood pressure, hearing impairment and mental distress.

According to these agencies, all motorized vehicles -ranging from two-wheelers to buses, trucks and trailers -are equally responsible for rising high noise levels on city roads. Horns make up for a major share of the total noise pollution. Even imported cars come with lou der horns, so that they appeal to Indian sensibilities, they said.

ENT specialists pointed out that prolonged exposure to high volumes can cause permanent hearing impairment, besides other physical and mental problems.

Samir Joshi, professor of ENT studies at a city-based medical college, said, “Being surrounded by such high noise affects both the brain and the heart. Victims may suffer from irritability, poor concentration, momentary confusion and short-temper.This occupational hazard can affect their personal lives.“

Senior police inspector (traffic) Kranti Pawar ad mits to have endured all these problems in her years of service. She said, “I didn’t feel like speaking to anyone once I was off duty. My ears would still be ringing with loud noises. When on the field, there is no escape from the noisy traffic, constant crackling of the walkie-talkie and the intermittent ringing of phones.“

Shinde said, “At times, I can’t hear my own voice when speaking to passersby or commuters on the road.We can only step aside for a few moments of respite. It would be a relief if drivers shut their vehicles off while halting at junctions.“

Driving must remain a visually-oriented activity, points out audiology expert Kalyani Mandke. “Driving vehicles is not supposed to be a noise-oriented activity, and vehicles are designed and fitted with enough mechanisms to not involve in constant honking. People are not aware of them and thus they go unused,“ she said.

ENT specialists suggest measures for those exposed to traffic-related noise, which include sound planning measures and personal protective devices.

Source : TOI