GOOD Motoring
H. Kishie Singh

Of lane driving and sane driving

LANE driving is sane driving," says the road safety slogan. If this be the case, a lot of insane people are on the road, all armed with a driving license (probably bought from a tout working the Registration and Licensing Authority - R.L.A.) and at the wheel of a fast car. It's a deadly combination. In addition to this, our roads are badly designed, poorly executed with little or no maintenance.

Add to this "masala" the fact that Indian drivers are reckless and take indiscriminate risks, it's a challenge and adventure to break the law. This attitude is not restricted to drivers. Pedestrians will happily jump over railings. A cycle rickshaw-puller will lift his rickshaw over the barbed wire on Madhya Marg.

Why these gymnastics? Simply because there are no facilities for pedestrians. It all boils down to a common denominator: Badly designed roads and for this, the government must take responsibility and blame. Road building cannot be left to the Public Works Department. It is the work of experts. 

N.H 1 has the dubious distinction of being the deadliest stretch of road in the country. 2011 saw a rise of fatal accidents by 59 per cent on the Karnal-Delhi stretch. The reason was bad roads in design and maintenance. 

Another mega disaster in the making of National Highway 8, Delhi to Jaipur. It is already a disaster through Gurgaon, no overbridge or underpasses for pedestrians who run across eight lanes of fast-moving traffic. Now the government may allow residential projects along the express way on this 230-km stretch because of the high potential of the real estate sector and to "push economic development !" Human lives take a backseat.

To all this mismanagement add the yuppie factor. Anukool Rishi died in an auto crash in the heart of Delhi. He was 26 years old, driving a Rs 2 crore Lamborghini at 200 kmph. He hit the railings that ripped the driver's door off and he was thrown out of the car. The reason? He was not wearing his seat belt. There is every reason to suspect that the 26- year-old boy was drunk. No one in his senses would drive on Delhi roads - about the most congested in the world - at 200 kmph and not be wearing a seat belt.

Another reason for our traffic woes, we don't drive in our lane. In India we are supposed to drive on the left side of the road. The accompanying photograph shows kilometres of road with just one car using the national highway. The driver does not know he should be in the left-hand lane. The right hand lane is for faster traffic to over take.

So here is an elementary lesson for driving: Drive on the left hand side of the road. Second lesson do not over take from the left. If you were in the left lane of a two-lane highway, the overtaker will overtake from the right. The correct procedure. Both moves are correct and safe. 

Another disaster is looming on the horizon. Most national highways in the near future will be four or six lanes. This will mean higher speeds, which will mean more fatalities. Only you, the driver, can do something to not become a mere statistic. Drive sensibly. The government should also put up signs along the divided highways, "Keep Left". It would be the start of some sanity on Indian roads.

Happy Motoring !