I just realized today while driving to work that about one individual is killed every 24 seconds in India in a road accident. This is a small effort from my side to create a safe place to live and definitely safer roads to drive on.

I drive about 60 km every day from home to work and back. I pass through some of the highly congested roads with a lot of traffic, beautifully laid roads with drivers having absolutely no sense of road safety and interstate highway. I pass through a maze of roads with a million pot holes and more than a million undulations. There’s never been a single moment while driving that will I go back home today? I see a lot of vehicles (in India majority of the non-major roads in a city are not two-laned s0 you see a lot of traffic on both sides – the direction you are driving and from the opposite too) which have dents, scratches, lost fenders, rear-view mirrors, tail lamps etc. I wonder leaving alone the aspect of getting it repaired with the insurance money, how many drivers really care about the way they drive.

I am usually a laughing stock in my family when I ask everyone on board my car to wear the safety belts. I must be one of the few individuals in the country to have all belts available for use. Unfortunately no one listens. I insist that anyone sitting next to the driving seat should wear the belt if they want to travel in my car. I can say I am fairly successful in that stint!!! Now I keep asking everyone that if seat safety belts are so inconvenient why are the car manufacturing companies taking a lot of pain and cost to have better and better belts in place inside the car? Automobile sales are so customer driven that I know few salesmen who offer a colour which the company does not offer. If it so inconvenient why aren’t the sales men removing them before selling the car?

Another aspect which I observe is the apathy towards regulations. Be it jumping the signals, exceeding the speed limit, rash driving, honking deliberately, we are champions of doing everything that the rule books says we shouldn’t. Why are we like this? I have never seen more than 5 drivers in an entire drive giving an indicator that he or she would like to change lanes in the traffic. All we do is just swerve to the direction we want to go. I had a skirmish when I was driving on the extreme left lane  where the blinkers were on for more than 2 minutes so that I can stay on the same lane. In spite of me taking so much of care and precaution an auto rickshaw brushed my fender from the left. One should understand that I was the last vehicle in the extreme left lane and driving at 20-25 kmph. The auto rickshaw wanted to overtake me and go to the RIGHT lane!!! A scratch on the fender even before my car had a registration plate!!! Though it would not cost much for me to replace the focus is on the driving habits that we see daily.

I see a lot of two-wheeler drivers, especially motor bikes trying to over take from the left (India has a right hand drive regulation). For the first time since I started I had a car and a truck trying to over take me on a highway from the left!!! All I could do was just slow down and let the guys have the road for themselves. I heard a Spanish friend quoting recently that driving in India is like going to a war!!! No wonder we fight for road space!!!

Now coming to the actual intent of writing this so boring article on a Friday is I saw young college going kids (I can say that because its been 8 years since I passed out of the college) silently handing over pamphlets on the freeway to all vehicles, especially cars and bikers. It was memorial for their late friends who lost lives on this day in a bike accident on the same road at the same junction. What a pity!!! Two youngsters on their way to become responsible engineers lose life due to sheer negligence of a driver!! Imagine the fate of their families. How many more such incidents do we need to transform ourselves??

For all those use two wheelers:

  • Wear a proper safe to use helmet meeting the IRC/ ISI specifications
  • Ask the pillion rider also to wear a helmet
  • Buckle the helmet when it is on
  • Use a clear visor helmet – not those fashionable reflective visors which looks like an astronaut’s space helmet
  • Check your brake, especially if they are disc brakes for the brake fluid
  • Check the break pads
  • Have functional horns, head light, tail lamp and indicator lights
  • Last and final – drive safe and within the speed limits as indicated on the roads
  • Do not use mobile phones while driving

For all those who drive cars:

  • Wear the seat belts
  • Seat belts are not vestigial, they have a purpose and that is SAFETY
  • Have all seat belts functional. Not wearing seat belts attract penalty in India
  • Maintain appropriate tyre pressures
  • Have all lights functional
  • Do not use glaring white or blue lights as head lights
  • Do not use mobile phones while driving
  • Maintain your car properly
  • In case of a mid road crisis, use the safety triangle and put all parking lights on
  • Drive within the speed limits, you use a passenger car, not a racing car!!!

For all those who drive heavy vehicles like buses, trucks, trailers:

  • Have all your senses open and working while driving
  • Cars and two wheelers are small in size compared to your vehicle, so have a keen observation
  • Do not drive rash and zig zag on roads
  • Buses do not stop in the middle of roads for passengers to board and alight the bus. There are bus stops and bus bays built
  • Do not apply sudden brakes when you know there are vehicles behind yours
  • Use all warning lights while parked
  • Maintain the vehicle properly

January 10 is celebrated in India as Road Safety Week. Let us all resolve to have our roads safe and reach our destinations safely!!!