Anyone can tell you that the traffic conditions in India are horrible. Chaotic. Messy. Dangerous. Senseless. The best part is, most Indians think, it is beyond repairs and with the passage of time, it is bound to get worse. Most people I talked to were of the opinion that India has more vehicles on roads than the infrastructure of roads are designed to handle. India has about 18 vehicles per 1000 people. That places it on the 135th rank in the world. (US has 809, Australia 723, Italy 682, Canada 607, Germany 588 and UK 519. Highest being in San Marino, 1263, and least, ONLY 2 in Togo). Yet, nowhere, have I ever witnessed, such disorderly and selfish bunch of drivers as in India!
Indians are regarded as one of the most intelligent communities in the world and we never miss an opportunity to claim that status! One sees Mera Bharat Mahan scribbled on the back of trucks andrickshaws all the time. But, are we really that mahan or is it just a political slogan?
But WHY? Why are we like that when it comes to driving?
Let me ask a counter-question: Do ALL schools teach respect for law and observance of traffic regulations in India? If not, why not? I know some schools do educate their pupil to look both ways before crossing the street. And those kids do. But guess what they observe in real life? Not the vehicular movements, but adults running and crossing the streets as if their pants are on fire! And since kids adapt themselves to what adults around them do, we end up with generations after generations of unruly, disorderly population in our society.
The “Driving Schools” only care about how many students they can enroll rather than how many safe drivers can they generate. Learning to drive is one thing. Driving responsively is another.
Another sad (but real) problem is, in India traffic rules are not implemented! Everyone takes solace in knowing that if worst comes to worst, they could bribe a cop and get away with almost anything!
All politicians use slogans and promise better roads, water supply, electricity, cheaper food but I am yet to see a single political leader saying he will improve or implement tougher sanctions for traffic regulations! This includes our Prime Minister. (Hope, he reads this or someone draws his attention to this!)
Lately, the media has been abuzz with arguments for and against Salman’s accident of 13 years ago but not a single TV station or newspaper has come up with suggestions to avoid recurrence of such tragedy. Here’s my two cents to fill that void:
a) Make it a part of every curriculum to include TRAFFIC SENSE AND RESPECT FOR THE LAW a compulsory subject.
b) Implement stricter traffic laws on 24/7 basis across the country
c) A crash course in DEFENSIVE DRIVING must be a requirement for issuance of a Driving License
d) Insurance companies should be encouraged to offer a discount in premiums to all drivers with CLEAN DRIVING RECORD
e) Driving under influence of controlled substance or involvement in any fatal accident should result in automatic jail time + severe fine ANDsuspension of driving privileges
f) Driving any vehicle with more than stipulated passenger capacity should be heavily penalized
g) Use of seat belts for ALL passengers must be mandatory
h) Child booster seats and restraint systems must be implemented
i) Use of cell phones or texting while driving should carry hefty fine
Remember: THE LIFE YOU SAVE MAY BE OWN!!
By Wilson Battu
(Suggestions for readers of this article: Watch YouTube videos on “USA and India traffic rules”, “Traffic sense”, “Collection of horrible traffic accidents” and other related video suggestions by the website)