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75 Years Of India's Independence

We The People: Meet 'Freeway Francis', The Traffic Safety Crusader of Ghaziabad

After losing her daughter to a car accident, 64-year-old Dorris Francis spends four hours, the busiest ones, every day of the last 14 years on the road, a cap on her head, whistle and baton in her hands, helping ease traffic in Ghaziabad.

Dorris Francis, Volunteer Traffic Controller Photo: Tribhuvan Tiwari

Meet Dorris Francis, aged about 64, whose story outshines any soulful movie you may have seen. The raging road of Ghaziabad snatched her daughter away from her, and since that accident, Dorris Francis has been managing traffic at a Ghaziabad intersection.

She is not a traffic cop. Fourteen years ago, she volunteered to manage the traffic near the spot where her daughter was killed. Suffering such a loss is one dire thing, but imagine a mother picking up a baton to control the chaos of the rushing vehicles so that no other parent may have to grieve the same way.

Dorris Francis, Volunteer Traffic Controller
Photo: Tribhuvan Tiwari

Francis spends four hours, the busiest ones, every day on the road, a cap on her head, whistle and baton in her hands. At first, people thought her crazy, abused her, shoved her, and hit hard, but over time everyone began to respect and obey her. Now, the regular commuters of the route know her; smile and wave when they pass. The local personnel of Uttar Pradesh traffic police know her well, appreciate her passion and acknowledge her help. “I know what a tough job the traffic police do. So many cops have been run over by speeding vehicles. So many have been hit and are physically impaired,” she says.

She is also a cancer survivor and underwent surgery in 2016 funded mostly by the public, the state government, and traffic police. Doctors advise her against the gruelling job, but she lives for her cause.

(This appeared in the print edition as "Freeway Francis: Untwining a Busy Intersection")

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Text and photographs by Tribhuvan Tiwari

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