Obey rules and drive safe
Santa’s younger brother Ghanta was thrilled. His immigration visa for Canada had been approved. While waiting for the visa to come through, Ghanta had honed his driving skills as a truck driver. He was going to be a truck driver in Canada. “But Ghanta, in Canada they drive on the right side. How will you cope?” asked his friend. Replied Ghanta: “Makes no difference, brother. No left or right for me. I drive in the centre of the road.”
The accompanying photograph shows how some truck drivers drive on the yellow line in the centre of the road. This is exactly what is happening on Indian roads. No one follows road rules. Either they don’t know the rules, or they are just plain cussed and defiant. They force the law- abiding drivers to make the wrong moves. Which means everyone on the road is making wrong moves. Little wonder that India has the highest number of road fatalities in the world.
Take a look at the photo. It is a four-lane highway with a wide centre median. This clearly demarcates a left-hand and right-hand road. However, in the left-hand road, trucks are been driven in the right-hand lane. They should be in the left-hand lane. The road ahead of the tanker and truck is unoccupied for kilometres. The right-hand lane is for faster cars to overtake, which then move into the left-hand lane.
In effect then, you will be obeying the rule of the road, driving on the left-hand side of the road.
Sticking to the centre forces the other driver to overtake from the left. This does happen on a drive to Delhi along NH1. One is forced, repeat forced, to overtake from the left. An extremely dangerous move, and illegal. Also seen in the picture is a dumper on the opposite side of the road. He is also sticking to the centre, and his top speed cannot be more than 40-50 kmph. What is he doing in the fast lane? Holding up the free flow of traffic, and forcing other drivers to overtake from the left. No one drives on the left. Yes, they drive on the left-hand side of the road but in the right-hand side lane. This is wrong.
These drivers have had no formal training. They have no knowledge of road rules or traffic signs. Adding to their ignorance is a defiant attitude. Bus drivers simply will not stop at designated bus stops. They pull up in the middle of the road, or make unauthorised stops. This can be seen every day all day long at the Tribune Chowk. On many occasions, the police has made attempts to stop this habit. The bus drivers simply won’t comply. NH1 to Delhi is a delight to drive on. There is still a lot of construction going on. “Today’s pain, tomorrow’s gain,” says the construction company. Very true, but most of the road is smooth and well surfaced even if it is a two-lane at places due to the construction. The speed limit is 90 kmph for a car. The best speed for fuel efficiency of the car, for safety purposes and for breezing along without much trouble.
Keep all doors locked while you are in the car, especially at traffic lights, for your own safety
If only drivers kept to the left lane, the right-hand lane would be empty. This would allow a swift, smooth overtake move from the right. There was a heartening but depressing news item in this paper the other day. “The Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear to the Punjab and Haryana states that vehicles should not be permitted to travel on the wrong side of the National Highways.” Amazing. The judiciary is doing the job of the police and the executive. Do they, the police and the executive, need to be told to do their jobs? It would seem so.
“On the wrong side of the National Highways”. This has two interpretations. Driving in the wrong directions, and also driving in the right-hand lane. Both are wrong sides. Would the court tell the state governments that both moves are wrong, dangerous, deadly, and must be curbed? The real question to ask is where is the responsible citizen? Road safety, like education, begins at home. For you, for your family and every road user.