[Rash driving in India] What’s wrong with us?

I’m going to be quite straightforward in attempting to arrive at the root cause of rash driving in my country, which is resulting in fatal accidents on a daily basis.

(I don’t drive — never found it worthwhile to drive in conditions that would make me part of this driving nightmare. Instead, i take the public transport, which deserves an entirely separate article, thanks to it’s sorry state).

What prompted me to writing this post is the recent news of a person who met with a fatal accident while crossing a road nearby!

Here are some totally unacceptable points i observe about the sorry state of traffic management in my city:

1. Perennial traffic congestion and choke-points owing to narrow roads, sometimes encroached by settlements, and just too many vehicles, including those irritating 3-wheelers.

2. A constant sense of hurry and the feeling of being-late-already in drivers’ minds, owing to #1 (not generalizing all drivers here, just a minority of well-meaning drivers). Plain old impatience.

3. Signals not present at all places. Yes, there are road crossings with no signal in place!

4. Signal boxes rotated (by saboteurs?) or just not fixed perfectly sometimes. In such cases, the signals do not face the drivers/pedestrians but rather face a third direction!

5. Absence of Traffic cops from quite a few signal-crossings. Ideally, a signal should suffice by itself but a traffic cop is an additional check.

6. Lack of awareness of rules. This one is a deeply entrenched problem, it runs through generations. People (and that includes pedestrians too!) just don’t care about the rules. And rules too aren’t that user-friendly. Sample this, Green signal is for a go-ahead to the drivers and Red indicates a stop sign. However, recently we adopted a signal system for pedestrians too. However, in such a system, they used green to indicate a go-ahead to pedestrians. There is a separate signal for drivers on the other side, but how many semi-literate drivers would you expect to grasp these rule changes?

7. Breaking rules is “cool” to a significant many (majorly drivers). This sort of attitude is bound to result in fatal accidents. Again, people just don’t care, this time about others!

Over the generations, the we-don’t-care-about-you attitude has evolved into a system of it’s own. And that’s what lead to the accident i read about recently, and continues to lead to several daily accidents across the country. Here is what it has evolved into over the generations — drivers do not stop at most signals (even when it’s Red) unless there is a traffic cop manning the signal! Pedestrians, on their part, freely attempt crossing roads (even when it’s green for vehicles)!

The harsh truth is that perhaps this problem is systemic to thinking here.

Here is what we need — Cars should come with sensors embedded in them, signal-jumping should be tracked by a system and licenses revoked accordingly. Penalizing / rules-enforcement can be a huge industry here!


3 thoughts on “[Rash driving in India] What’s wrong with us?

  1. Haha. I love this post as I was an expat in the developing world and WHAT A MESS! I also am a logical, problem-solver like you so I was always scratching my head. I wonder if everyone honks for no reason in India? In Mexico, the minute traffic slows, everyone starts honking and as people are usually out in the street you want to rip your ears off! I also love that they pass cars on curvy, 2-lane roads bordering cliffs (free fall to the sea) and often have an open beer in their lap! Argh. The best was on a trip to N. Africa years ago and two men raced to get to the toll booth and as neither would let the other be 1st, they just smashed into each other! We have bad accidents in the US due to the speed/freeways and so on, but I wouldn’t dare drive except in the developed world. 🙂 Stay safe on the bus!

    • The core problem is this — achieving a target is seen as more compelling than achieving it the correct way. In case of driving, this translates to the point that drivers just want to reach their destinations in time and in that process, do away with driving etiquette. Same applies to pedestrians to a certain extent. This is bound to happen in competitive societies where only winning counts. And people are no longer conscious of the root cause.

      • Well said. I tend to find the humor in serious things, but you are right. In the US, young males pay much more in auto insurance than young females, which is required by law. That all comes from studies on crashes and whatnot. Rather proves your point on competition, not that I feel much safer with women who are doing 100 things at once while driving (not me!) or older males who’ve had a mid-life crisis and need fancy sports cars they don’t know how to drive.

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