How often has it happened? It’s mid-evening and you’re on your way back home. All you want to do is head back to the comfort of your bed after a day at the grind. You’re about to take a right turn when some maniac in a big car (hell, it could even be a tiny car or a two wheeler) cuts across from the left, only millimeters away from you. It’s all you can do from screaming out loud.
And let’s be honest, we’ve all been that asshole too, myself included.
We see a space on the road and we HAVE to attack. When it comes to Indians driving, we all have our own unique understanding of the rules of traffic.
In every traffic jam, there’s almost always one person who decides that it’s absolutely imperative that they get to the front because of course, that’s all that matters. And inevitably the jam gets worse.
Talking on the phone while driving, driving at night with a high beam, stopping in the middle of the road for directions, the list just goes on.
Think about it. If we really loved our cars, would we drive as recklessly as we do? Sudden changes in direction, no regard for spacing between vehicles and the relentless honking are all part and parcel of a typical drive down most Indian roads.
How many of us have cut ahead to the start of right-turn lane, just because we wanted, nay, needed to be first in line?
How many us really know that we’re breaking the law every time we take a U-turn over a solid centre line on the road? In fact, how many of us really understand what the different surface markings on the roads really mean?
Then there’s the famous ‘Free Left Turn’. We seem to think this gives us carte blanche to turn into oncoming traffic without a second thought. And let’s not even begin talking about lane driving.
It’s easy to blame everyone else for the messed up traffic situation in our major cities, but how often have you driven down the wrong side of the road just because the actual turn you wanted to take was too far away?
In writing this all down, I’m in danger of painting every Indian who’s ever sat behind the wheel with the same brush. Because while we can be some of the world’s biggest idiots, we are also capable of being truly decent drivers.
I’ve seen people halt in the middle of a busy road to let pedestrians pass. I’ve watched motorists stop by the dozen at a red light for a crossing, even though no one was waiting.
It’s not all doom and gloom. And yes, I do realise that following all the rules and traffic etiquette is much harder when no one around you is doing it (try sticking to a lane when people are jostling for space left, right, centre and even behind you).