City commutes are getting harder by the day, the number of cars bikes and buses getting on the road is in an upswing, while the Road infrastructure has been in a steady decline. This is one of the reasons for the dramatic rise in number of Road accidents, incidents of road rage and general loss of joy of driving especially in the city
There are standard set of Rules of the road, stuff that we need to pass the driving tests but something we forget immediately afterwards. Stuff like
- Not breaking Red lights.
- Following speed limits
- Staying on the left side of the road. (People take those shortcuts)
- Not Using Full Beam.
- No Mobile phones while driving.
If we all followed these the next set of rules are pretty redundant, but most don’t. But there are some of us, who don’t need to drive fast to get to office a couple of minutes early or afford to have accidents on the road or lose their cool on the street or have girl friends to impress with wheelies. We just want to get from one place to the other Safely.
The rule Zero for me is You are responsible for your safety, You have to become more conservative to account for others’ aggression. It’s easy to blame others for your accident but you still screwed. You are also responsible for covering for other people’s mistakes. This means that you need to be aware of what’s happening on the road, being mindful of what’s ahead of you and when can it can stop, what’s behind of you and how big or fast is it coming, who’s driving erratically and where the potholes and bumps are.
- No Honking at all It has the negative effect on people, It’s noise pollution and It’s an admission that you have made a driving mistake. If you can’t see at a turn then slow down so that you don’t have to worry about somebody coming the other side. If you are on a narrow street with slow vehicles in front pass the vehicle when you get the chance there is no reason to be push him off the road because you are in a hurry. It is no good to honk when there is red light at the signal everybody is trying to get to the destination early, just wait for your turn to move. It is worst in the night and most of us do not realize what a menace it is.
- Always Overtake from the Right Use left only if there is enough space, where enough space means you still have space even if the other vehicle shifts a whole lane. If you do not have the space to over take just stay in the back biding your time.
- Keep the distance Once you realize that hitting another vehicle is ALWAYS your mistake and not the others, When excuse of the other guy braked suddenly is no longer available, you will maintain the distance. There are all sort of rules around how far should you be given the speed of the vehicles, In general the Western (3 second) rules of distance are not much good in India, my thumb rule is to keep double length of the vehicle distance from cars, Trucks, Buses. More for Taxis and Call center cabs. About a vehicle length from bikes and cycles in normal traffic suffices.
- Stay to left much as possible Right side of the road is where the speeds are the highest. That’s also side of the road which attracts most aggressive and faster drivers.
- Avoid driving when you don’t have to Walking is safe, and public transport is pretty good. There’s a local saying, “The only place you are safe on the road is inside a Bus”
To follow these you need loads of Patience You will be stuck behind a slow-moving Biker talking on the Mobile Phone, waiting at the Red Signal with no traffic at all late in the night and a form of chalta hai attitude aka ‘Be prepared for assholes’. Though it’s NOT OK for others to break rules, you can’t do much (Some times when I am irritated I give them feedback with the middle finger), you will see people overtaking from left, cutting lanes, pushing you off the road, bumping into you from the back, and incessantly honking at you and it’d be easy to do the same, but resist that temptation. I repeatedly use “This is water” to remind myself it’s probably OK.