Roads - The Beast Within

For a normal guy, the “aam-aadmi”, I’m a very frequent traveller. I relish every opportunity to pack my bag and go on a trip, be it for work or personal purposes or on a holiday. The road excites me always. It inspires me, gives me joy & tells me stories. Irrespective of the destination, I look forward to each journey for the time I get to spend on roads.

The thrill of speeding away on a highway, negotiating tough twists, turns & hairpins are as important to me as the scenic/cultural experiences and adventures at the eventual destination. It’s no secret that any riding enthusiast would love to test the power of the vehicle when cruising on a long highway. I feel most powerful, alive and in control of life when I’m in control of a vehicle that is zooming past others and cruising at high speeds. So in these conditions, how do we ensure that safety is integrated into the whole equation? How do we make sure one reaches the desired destination in one piece?

To understand this, I believe it’s firstly important to list down the major concerns & dangers constantly faced by drivers/riders on Indian highways & city lanes.
  •  Lack of lane discipline - One of the biggest challenges on Indian roads is the undisciplined jumping from one lane to the other, often without any indication. This holds true even in heavily congested city roads. This is not only dangerous to self & co-motorists, but also contributes heavily to traffic congestions in cities.  This is especially dangerous when an overtaking manoeuvre is performed through the left side of a vehicle. This is the cause of numerous accidents, and sadly, the Indian driver never learns.
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road - This one is especially truer in Tier – II, III cities and smaller towns apart from highways. While on a highway, how many times have you noticed a two-wheeler/tractor/mini trucks/cars/rikshaw driving on the wrong side of the road to save a few minutes/meters instead of using the appropriate U-turns?    
  • Unprotected highways – couple of years ago, one night while traveling by car in the Surat – Baroda stretch of NH 8, I saw a black cow lying dead in the middle of the road. It must’ve been crossing the road and must’ve been hit by a heavy truck, the driver of which may not have spotted the black animal crossing road in the dark night. Most sections of Indian highways pass through fields and a simple barbed wire fencing on both sides of the road is all it takes to prevent such avoidable incidents.
  •  Relentless use of high beams - a good percentage of high impact accidents on road happens as a result of driver being temporarily blinded by extra bright headlights from the vehicles on opposite side. How much effort does it really take to dim your light while on road. I believe it is high time manufacturers included automated systems on all vehicles to dim the headlight upon sensing vehicles approaching at an appropriate distance from the opposite direction. 

The list is non exhaustive and the idea behind this post is not to list out the existing challenges and problems, rather to share my suggestions to enhance safety on Indian roads. Many of these are well known to all, but out of stubbornness and “I-can-do-no-wrong” feeling, they are just plainly ignored. So this post is a way to reiterate these points again and again and again until they are registered as critically important in every driver’s minds.
  • Wear a seat belt/helmet, always! This is applicable not only to the driver, but all passengers.
  • Never ever drink & drive. You might feel invincible & awesome for a moment, but NO!!
  • Give proper indication prior to any manoeuvre, be it taking a turn, an exit or overtaking another vehicle. Use your lights & indicators intelligently to convey a message.
  • Maintain your vehicle in good condition. Go in for timely services. Ensure your brakes, lights, indicators, wipers, horn and everything else are in proper working condition.
  • And for god’s sake, please use the dimmer appropriately while driving in the night. This ignorance kills.
  • Calls, Whatsapp & Facebook can wait. Keep your phone away while driving.
  • “Taking a leap of faith” is a good topic if you are an inspirational speaker. But while on road, be 101% certain before attempting anything. Be careful, always!
  •  Respect the pedestrian & respect the road.
As Gandhiji once very famously said, “be the change you wish to see in the world”; take pledge to never go on the wrong side of the road or make an improper exit or pass on through the left side. Follow the basic rules of road and be a good example for your kids & juniors to watch & learn.

Every one of us has bare minimum common sense and knows the basic rules & regulations to be followed, but many of us lazily ignores most of them. We follow rules only on strict police monitoring to avoid paying a penalty. Why don’t we realize that life is worst penalty we will have to pay for our ignorance?  We have all witnessed a big accident on road at least once. We all read about them every day on papers. Yet while on road, many of us deem these regulations pointless and a few unlucky ones pay the price for this ignorance every day. 

…be the change you wish to see in world…
…be compassionate to your fellow motorists & pedestrians, for its not always you who pay the price for your ignorance…
… follow the basic rules & enjoy the road …

A big shout out to the Nissan Safety Driving Forum (NSDF), organizing road safety campaigns nationwide. This year alone, their initiative have reached 2 lakh drivers across the country spreading the message of road safety. As a passionate rider, I recognize that Safety begins with ME and support Nissan wholly in their initiatives. Let us join hands with Nissan and spread the message that road safety is each and every driver’s responsibility and your one unfortunate ignorance/mistake could lead to loss of lives.

Happy & Safe driving


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