The biggest challenge of urban life in India - the daily commute from home to work and back. Traffic is never smooth. Jams, dug up roads, incessant honking,increasing commute times are a regular feature. Yet quite a bit of this irritant can be reduced by following road discipline. Something which we Indians lack.
Cutting lanes, jumping traffic signals, not wearing a helmet, driving in the wrong direction for a short-cut, not signalling while changing lanes or turning, stopping bang on the zebra crossing instead of behind it, pedestrians moving about without a care, over-speeding, honking for the sake of it, using mobile phones while driving (I have even observed one gentleman playing poker on his mobile while driving) - Rule breaking has become a part of our habit. And all of us our guilty of it.
Though we get away with breaking these rules most of the time but some are not so lucky. Accidents happen but many are completely avoidable, Only if everyone followed discipline on the road. We may not be able to do much about dug up roads or malfunctioning traffic lights or the sheer number of vehicles on the road, but we can be more strict in following up the rules. After all rules have been made for our convenience only, although many would like to differ.
Only way to curb these dangerous activities is heavy fines and stricter implementation of rules by the traffic police. Within my office campus, most of the cars and buses actually follow speed limits, park in designated areas only and even stop for pedestrians on the zebra crossing. Chief reason being penalties which are deducted directly from the next month's salary. So monetary fines do have an effect if implemented properly. Another good option would be to take the offenders to the nearest station and show them videos/images of real life accidents which might put in some fear in them.
What we should & should not do?
- Stop before the zebra crossing. Don't think any time is saved by stopping 2 yards further.
- Use helmets always. And on your head. Carrying the helmet in your arm while riding is even more dangerous
- No mobile use - especially no texting or games or photography. All Smartphones have motion detectors. So why don't the likes of Apple and Samsung make sets which hibernate if moving beyond certain speeds. All callers can be notified that the person is driving and is thus unable to take the call.
- No weaving through lanes.
- No honking at signals. I think most drivers in India believe that the vehicle in front is powered not by fuel but by the sound of the horn.
- Drive within speed limits.
Hope this initiative by Mumbai Mirror and Sanjay Manjrekar (Link1, Link2) has some positive effect. Hopefully our roads will then become a better place. I know there won't be any instantaneous change but we should continuously strive for it.
P.S. An old post on the subject of Road Rush (Link)