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Monday, January 12, 2015

Road Safety : Why no one is talking about Bad Driving Habits ?

There has been a lot of talk about Road safety recently, especially after the death of Minister Gopinat Munde in a car crash in Delhi. India is said to be in the number one position when it comes to death on the roads due to accidents. According to some reports, 213000 people are killed every year in road accidents in India and millions of others are seriously injured. Why is it that we have so many accidents in the first place ?

Many factors are attributed for the accidents including poor road design, poor infrastructure, overcrowding, lack of enforcement of traffic laws , poor vehicle design and many more. But, the main factor that not many people are talking of is the Bad Driving behaviour. Bad driving is the root cause of all the accidents.It is an all encompassing reason for everything that happens on the roads.

Every day we see people drive like hell on the roads.They assume that driving on the road is a race that every other driver on the road is a competitor. There is no concern for the fellow driver. The overarching mindset is -” I should reach my destination by any means.Go to hell with others”. People are literally going to hell with this mindset. There is not a single journey on our roads when we do not pass by an accident that has just occurred. Some of them so bizarre, that you wonder how could this even happen.

One of the worst driving behaviour is absent minded driving. The driver is completely engrossed in his thoughts.He does not even realize that there is a huge pile up behind him.He does not even mind to look at the rear view mirror. This makes all the drivers lined up behind him start honking and try overtaking him, risking their own lives and the ones coming in the opposite direction. This idiotic behaviour by one driver causes all the other drivers violate the traffic rules and cause unnecessary stress. The same thing happens when one is busy talking on the mobile or to the co passenger.

Me First..Me First syndrome is another important behaviour that we get to see on the roads. People are not willing to wait for the others to pass. They want to have the right of the way.People do this while taking a turn in a busy intersection. Everyone wants to go first, creating a deadlock situation where none of them can move in any direction causing a huge pileup.

Bigger vehicle trying to intimidate the smaller ones is a common thing on the roads. People think that bigger vehicles always have a priority over the smaller ones.It is almost like an unwritten rule of the driving rule book. The smaller ones are always intimidated by coming way too close to the vehicle making him/her loose balance and composure.This is the resurgence of our animal instincts , i would say. When the roads are empty, people think they have to race at 80 KM even if it is a residential/School area.

Discrimination i.e treating a certain section of people in a bad way is seen on the roads as well. Pedestrians are second class citizens on the road. They have to wait until the “His Highnesses” pass through. They invariably have to hold their life in their hands and cross the roads and thank the god for not coming under the wheels of any vehicle for yet another day. Our treatment of women as being mere objects continues even on the roads. Women drivers are often given long stares in traffic signals. Women 2 wheeler riders are often chased by bastards with unsatisfied sexual cravings.

Basically, our driving behaviour highly reflects the society we are living in and level of civilized or uncivilized behaviour we have. The proposed Road Safety Bill proposes huge fines for traffic violations and bad vehicle design. It also talks of building world class infrastructure and high tech traffic management. But, it does not talk of doing anything about changing the Driving Behaviour/Mentality. There is no point in having a world class infrastructure , if we are exhibit this uncivilized and ghastly driving behaviour. As the old saying goes-”The dog will only shit, even if you make it sit on the throne”.

So, we need to sensitize people of showing courtesy and behave in a civilized way. This should be a part of curriculum while giving Driving Licenses. This skill should also be tested during the driving Tests. Passing a Driving Test should be as difficult as passing a matriculation exam. This is because , even if you fail in your matriculation exams you can take it again. But, you do not get this chance if you fail on the roads. It will either take the life of others or your own. Those not falling in line should be shamed and heavily penalized. At the end of the day people should take driving seriously.Driving is a skill that has to be improved over a period of time and not something that you acquire the skill and act foolish on the roads. Foolishness can cost lives you see and we cant be loosing 213000 people every year due to our foolishness. We will be the biggest bunch of fools in the world then.

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