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THE TRIBUNEsaturday plus
Saturday, November 13, 1999



Regional Vignettes

For children

Cars behave, drivers don’t
By H. Kishie Singh

BY all definitions this column should have been called Road Rage but that would have had very negative connotations, and we should have a positive attitude towards driving. The ‘smile’ factor.

Driving can be an extremely pleasurable experience. But if drivers misbehave on the road the pleasure dims to an extent where frustration builds up in the drivers. The driver may have other matters on his mind already. There are small factors like watching out for those overtaking from the left, constant and needless horns blaring all around and the slow-moving traffic when you are in a hurry. All these things are bound to irritate a driver who is late for a meeting or impatient to get home.

A bump on the cars’ bumper or fender may be the spark required to make drivers explode. They get into verbal duels and even exchange blows. Road Rage! All this is quite unnecessary. If you, the driver, were to drive sensibly, observe rules and show a bit of courtesy and good manners, the roads would be pleasurable places.

I was reading a booklet on driving tips in the U.K. and it showed hand signals and what they meant. There was a driver behind the steering wheel, he had a big smile on his face and his hand was raised in a friendly wave. The caption read: " We British are a polite people, we give right of way, we stop for pedestrians. We obey rules, we wave and smile and say thank you!"

Why don’t we Indians too try to follow rules and make it a habit. It would be a good habit, just to be polite. Talking about habits! We have to change some of our driving habits in any case. My friend has a brand new car — an electrical bit of wizardry with multi point-fuel injection system, electronic ignition and sensors in various parts of the engine. The car has no carburettor, no C.B. points, no ignition coil. And yet when he gets into the car and closes the door, his right foot automatically kicks down on the accelerator. It was necessary to do this when you drove a car with a carburettor. The gentle kick down on the throttle sent a squirt of petrol into the carburettor and made for an easy and quick start.

If you didn’t have a carburettor, this woud be a perfect example of a totally non-productive move. Ever since my friend has realised this, he grips his right leg with both hands when he gets into the car. This prevents the leg from making the instinctive move to press the accelerator pedal!

Most of the new generation cars have an electronic sensor to monitor the flow of fuel to the injectors. This happens the moment you turn the key in the ignition. In most cars there is a mandatory waiting period. Some cars have a red light on the instrument panel that reads ‘start No’ . After a few seconds, you will get a green light—start. One Korean car has a pleasant ding ding ding chime. Only after the 5th ding, you should start the car. This brief pause allows the electronic gadgetry and sensors to prime the engine for a quick and instant start. Just a gentle turn of the key and the engine fires into life.

These cars are virtually maintenance-free. Isn’t that a good reason to smile. And the smile can get bigger if our roads allow hassle-free driving conditions and we follow the traffic rules.

The cars behave themselves, the drivers don’t. In any case, smile. Happy motoring! back

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