When it comes to efficient traffic management, Singapore is one country that pops up in my mind first.Of course, the infrastructure available there, broad 6 lane toll-ways,adequate parking lots, excellent signal management,tough law etc do contribute to the successful traffic management there. But more than all these, I observed something else that perhaps contributes significantly more.
That Special Factor!
We noticed that the time allowed to pedestrians for crossing roads in Singapore, is very short. The green signal for pedestrian crossing turns green and remains green only for a minute or so and there after starts blinking for another minute. Then it turns red. For me, when I tried to cross, by the time I reached the median, the green signal had started blinking. I practically ran to cross the second half before the blinking green turned red! I wondered how old people who walk slow can cross roads!
So I was looking out for such occasions. And it came. An old lady with a walking stick was crossing the road at snail’s pace. By the time she reached the median, the crossing the signal turned red! Just what I was looking for ! My Indian heart told me ‘Poor lady, she has to stand in the median and wait for the next green signal!
The moment pedestrian crossing signal turned red, the road signal had turned green, for the impatient vehicles to move forward. In India, the waiting vehicles would just cruise off fast, the moment the green turns on. But, to my surprise,there in Singapore, no vehicle moved! They were all waiting patiently for the poor old lady to cross the second half at her own pace! No horn honking! No quoting of law! It’s just pure concern for others !At work Singapore is a perfect robot! But when it comes to concern for others,Singapore has a heart of flesh! Do we have this heart ?
What decides your driving style?
Normally, the factors that decide one’s driving style are
1) Concern for own life and vehicle
2) Concern for Others life
3) Concern for Elderly and Handicapped
4) Concern for Traffic Law
5) Concern for Time and urgency
6) Road and traffic conditions.
‘Defensive Driving’ Style!
When your driving style is determined by factors 1 and 4,the style is called’ Defensive Driving’ style. This style is best recommended driving style for the chaotic traffic conditions of India. But one possible consequence of this driving style, is delay in reaching the destination. As Indian road conditions present competitors on roads who want to overtake you somehow, even through slender gaps, defensive driving style will push you to the rear end of the stream eventually.
Reckless Race Style!
The typical driving style that you come across in India is a style that ignores factors 1 to 6 above.These drivers are not bothered about themselves, others, elders, law or anything. They turn blind to ‘No Entry Signs’, signals ‘etc. But they are alert to the presence of Police! Their only goal is to reach their destination like James Bond 007! Often they end up in a wrong destination, ie the Post Mortem Room!
These type of drivers are all over the place. You park your car in the parking lot and are about to open the door to get out. A bike speeds fast near the door without sounding any horn! You walk on the platform worried about your EMI and suddenly jump to a side, as you notice an auto speeding on the platform, without even a courtesy of horn! These drivers do not return your horn sound even at corners and surprise or shock you!
They suddenly take the right turn without any indication. If they get a call while driving,they will stop the vehicle at the center of the road and answer the call! They simply wont bother about the traffic that is following them. Speed breakers can control their speeds to some extent. The margin of safety for such kind of drivers is a few centimeters only. Sec. 304 of the Indian Penal Code is framed for booking this category of reckless drivers only. We need to pray for our life while driving on Indian roads as our driving style may not save us when these drivers are around!
Responsible Driving Style!
‘Responsible Driving Style’ is the ideal style that takes note of factors 1 to 6 above, as I happen to notice in Singapore. In the U.S. pedestrians look at the signal to cross roads even at midnight when the traffic is minimal. This habit is part of their culture. Law can hardly shape culture. It is by examples set by parents and elders that such a culture is shaped. Let us be such examples to our children,women folk and others while it comes to driving. Let us be an agent of change for the better!
By A S Sundar