Monday, 12 November 2012

Five Indian habits, that make driving a nightmare.

The Indian motoring industry is at an all-time high. The consumer’s buying power has gone up and companies have taken note. Just under a decade ago luxury meant just Mercedes, but now Audis and BMWs are as common as a corrupt MLA. This is a good sign for growth, but the infrastructure continues to remain the same and driving schools are merely a link between you and the lazy government official who okays your driver’s license. Those of us, who are license holders, know very well what qualifies as a “driving test” in India.
 The lack of training and education on road safety has resulted in a swarm of incompetent drivers who are only perfect at honking and wondering if there are any cops around when the signal goes red. This has made India get a track record for the maximum road accident related deaths. Hence here is a list of 5 things that Indian drivers do that make you love to despise their very existence.

The Lane marking
Several drivers on the road seem to look at the pretty little series of white lines on the road and wonder “What sorcery is this?” The lane markings {even though they are quite rare to spot in most places}, are meant to ensure proper and organized traffic movement. Unfortunately, they appear to be modern art than anything else, since hardly anyone actually follows them. The left side lanes are for slow moving traffic and the one on the right is for overtaking only. But more often than not, you will find a rickshaw or a 48 year old man on a 30 bajjillion year old Hero Honda splendor cruising at 25kph. To add to your misery, if you flash your lights at him he will gracefully use his left hand and paddle forwards and backwards, telling you to overtake from the left. Due to the number of people who do this, even people who follow the lane system have no choice but to act like their annoying counterparts.
The whole purpose of this system is to ensure that the person over-taking you never falls in your blind spot i.e. the side-view mirror that is on the passenger’s side. 

The “you don’t say?” indicator

The indicator is a simple device that was put in to show the drivers and people around you, that you will be changing your direction. At first nobody understood its purpose but eventually they started using it. The problem however is that people don’t know how to use it right.
Technically speaking the indicator should be given at least 50 meters before taking the actual turn, but in our case it’s given while turning. Even in the case of lane changing, drivers need to give the person behind them at least a few moments to notice the indicator, but again the signal is given and the turn is taken immediately so the guy behind him thinks “Oh you don’t say?, if you didn’t give the indicator while you turned, I would never have noticed!!”. This is often the cause of that tyre screeching noise caused by slamming the brakes, when a driver is caught unaware.
Just giving the indicator as a formality is pointless, use it right for everyone’s safety.

The Commuter "Bikers"

Commuter bikers are one of the biggest problem creators on the road. They are extremely tiny and expect you to spot them in the puny nooks and crannies that they trudge through. I happen to be a hardcore biker and a 4 wheel fanatic as well so, I know for a fact how two- wheelers behave and how enraging it is to deal with the biker phenomenon. These two wheeled terrorists have a crude sense of humor. They overtake in the most heinous possible way. Instead of giving you some gap they pass cars like perverts grabbing a woman’s skirt. There is barely any gap between the vehicle being overtaken and the bike doing the overtaking. If the driver steps on the gas pedal even a little, it’s enough to P.I.T the bike into road paste and the poor drivers are held guilty more often than not.

The “in-a-hurry-to-go-nowhere” honkers

I bet you grinned at the word honkers. Well this is something that almost every one of us indulges in. The frustrating traffic conditions, never ending jams and hopeless roads would have everyone revving their engines with rage, but with these petrol prices we tend to vent it out by honking.
See a car a mile away HONK, see a dog HONK, come late from office or a party HONK at 3am to wake up the guard at the gate.
Excessive honking is an epidemic and we do it almost sub-consciously. The best example of this is a traffic jam during rush hour. The signal has just turned green and the guy in a Tata Sumo, 17 cars away from the signal will blast the horn because apparently that turns the Nano up front, into a Ferrari. It’s almost like the traffic signals are on a race track and if you don’t hit the horn first, you lose. If this one habit was stopped road rage related issues would crash in numbers and so would many health conditions.

The high-beamers

This is in my opinion, the worst of all these drivers. High beam driving has become a serious issue with drivers unnecessarily using their high beam. When people do this, traffic on the opposite side and the driver in front of you goes blind. The light creates an opaque barrier that quite literally blinds everyone else. This is particularly dangerous because on our roads, craters, random dislodged rocks and badly laid down paths result in every route being an obstacle course and an accident waiting to happen. This picture shows how dangerous high beam driving is. At high speeds, your vision will be a lot worse.

The civic bodies may not work efficiently anytime soon, but till then it’s up to us to ensure our own safety. It’s clear that if you are a driver/rider in India, you have indulged in some or the other activity from above. I know I have. It could be because everyone else does it or because you just weren’t educated about it.
 You could stick to one lane no matter what. You could ignore the guy in a rush behind you who wants you to move even though it’s a red signal. Remember if a driver crossing the signal legally crashes into you, the impatient driver won’t take the blame or the responsibility.
So the bottom line is, if you can do the simple things that will make Indian roads safer.

 Why not just do it?

1 comment:

  1. Good post.

    A major contributor to the high-beam problem is the number of vehicles with tinted windows. Drivers can barely see through these with their high-beam on, never mind otherwise.

    A 6th habit is going down the road in the wrong direction to save a few drops of petrol. Whilst not necessarily dangerous in its own right as it is normal and therefore expected by all, the cumulative effect of having to looking in all directions when turning at junctions, crossing roundabouts or simply changing lanes is bound to cause accidents.

    A 7th habit is using hazard lights when it is raining or foggy. This is especially annoying / dangerous when hazard lights are added to brake lights / tail lights an head lights (of course high-beam) defracting off rain drops on your windscreen together giving the impression that you're driving through a christmas tree.

    I've got more (eg coming round corners on the wrong side of the road, I guess to save steering effort), but "Seven Habits" sounds good ;-)