Good Motoring
Let us make roundabouts safe
H. Kishie Singh H. Kishie Singh

THE accompanying photograph shows a roundabout at the crossing of Jan Marg and Uttar Marg, which was damaged when a speeding vehicle hit against it. The brake marks were in a straight line, meaning no evasive action was taken. No attempt to swerve left or right. The driver was obviously under the influence of liquor. He relied upon his brakes to stop the car.

These did not work. The car was travelling too fast. It was badly damaged. So was part of the roundabout. On braking, the wheels got locked. No ABS, which may have helped. But the speed and distance required to stop were not in the driverís favour.

Bashed up rotaries are a common sight in Chandigarh. It is safe to assume that rotaries have claimed dozens of lives. In addition, crores of rupees have been spent on repairs.

Last week there was a news item which said that "as a solution to the growing problem (meaning driving into roundabouts), the administration has now decided to paste a lining of reflectors on every circle.íí

"The experiment has been tried at a couple of roundabouts," says the administration. Please note, "a couple of roundabouts," and it is still an experiment. Why not all the roundabouts where the results would be clear in double quick time?

Here we are in the 21st century, and the administration is still experimenting. In developed countries, reflective tapes, signs and paints have been in use since the late 1940s. It was an invention necessitated by World War II, and immediately after the war, it was used for civilian purposes. Corporate houses, advertising agencies, and especially oil companies, saw the huge advantages of advertising with reflective stickers.

In the 1950s, American oil companies Caltex and Esso gave you a reflective bumper sticker if you took on a full tank of petrol. The year 2010 sees the Chandigarh Administration experimenting with a tried and tested product.

Some years ago, a proposal was mooted to instal used car tyres on the outer perimeters of roundabouts. Rubber saves both the roundabout and the car from extreme damage. It will definitely save lives.

Driverís pick

To remove stickers from the glass area, use petrol; then scrape off the remnants of the sticker with a razor blade

There is no need to experiment with what used tyres are capable of. F.1 aficionados have witnessed an F.1 car ramming into a tyre wall at a speed of up to 300 km an hour. The tyres go flying in all directions. The car suffers considerable damage, and the driver walks away unscathed. Lesson to be learnt. Used car tyres absorb impact energy, and are useful for
traffic management.

Used tyres find use in marinas and harbours as well. As ships and boats come into load or unload passengers, they scrape against the wooden or concrete structures of the harbour. To prevent damage either to the structure or the ships, used tyres are strung up in the harbour structure. They work. Owners of expensive yachts and F.1 racers have confidence and faith in used tyres. Why does not the administration?

Doing away with roundabouts has also been considered as an option. It wonít help. It will be replaced by traffic lights. During peak hours, traffic crawls around the roundabouts. At a red light, traffic is stationary. Elementary, my dear Watson. Crawling traffic is faster than stationary traffic. What is required are disciplined drivers who stick to their lanes, do not switch lanes, or try and overtake at roundabouts. That is a distant dream.

Happy motoring.