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Road traffic behaviour in Jaffna

By M.Sooriasegaram

(May 23, Jaffna , Sri Lanka Guardian) Road traffic behavior in Jaffna is the worst in the country and probably in the world.

While welcoming the attempt by the police to stop and check driving licenses, many other dangerous aspects of driving and vehicle conditions are ignored by the police.


Two or sometimes three cyclists ride in parallel taking almost half the carriageway leaving very little space for other vehicles travelling in both directions. Jaffna roads are too narrow to allow this practice. This is not only dangerous but also causes congestion. Police must ban parallel cycling. Just imagine if parallel cycling takes place in both directions!

Cyclists riding without lights in the nights must be prosecuted.

Nearly all cyclists do not give signal before turning right or left.

Cyclists with wide loads on their carriers are a danger to other road users especially at night when they do not have any lights!


Tractors are a real menace with their wide loads, sometimes as wide as the full carriageway and always travelling without lights at night. The trailers have neither rear lights nor brake lights and therefore can cause fatal accidents at night. Police must prosecute all such drivers.

Motor Cyclists

They pose the biggest threat to road safety with their very poor riding standards such as:

Not stopping and looking Right, Left and Right again before entering a main road from a minor road. This makes other drivers to swerve, apply sudden brakes etc. causing dangerous accidents.

Not looking into the mirror before giving signals and making dangerous maneuvers – the rule “Mirror, Signal and Maneuvers” must be enforced.

Two or more motor cyclists riding in parallel, like cyclists, and causing dangerous situations.

Riding with lights in high beams, causing glare and discomfort to oncoming traffic is a dangerous practice.

Making dangerous maneuvers w/o the necessary observations and signals

Riding or parking on the wrong side of the road in the night with head lights on

Riding with wide loads w/o the necessary safety precautions

Riding w/o helmets and licenses – no bike should be allowed to be ridden w/o license, helmet and insurance

Other vehicles

Dangerous overtaking and stopping/moving away w/o signaling

Driving at night with main beam

Exhaust spewing fowl gases and dark thick smokes – such vehicles must be banned from the public highway and should be impounded by the police. They cause a great deal of environmental pollution.

Overcrowding to dangerous levels

Driving with bald tyres, which is a dangerous practice

The biggest culprits committing the above offences are the private passenger vans and mini buses.

Licenses of offenders must be confiscated and must be forced to attend Traffic Safety classes specially arranged by the traffic police, before their licenses are returned. Public propaganda and education on traffic safety are crucial in Jaffna before our roads become death beds.

I think we have enough police officers in Jaffna to be able to root out these abominable, antisocial and dangerous traffic offences. The police officers are generally doing a very good job in catching abductors and managing traffic during peak hours especially school start and finish times.

Jaffna community needs to learn a great deal about traffic safety before too many people are killed or injured on our roads. Such unnecessary injuries are a huge burden on the National Health Services, whose resources can be better utilized in other ways. In fact the cost of treatment of such accident injuries by the NHS must be claimed from the vehicle insurers.

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