TODAY -

Driving a dangerous feat on Indian roads

RK Sinha *



If you drive safely on roads of Indian cities it is a feat for you. A newspaper report says that in Delhi one out of ten road accidents happen in night due to headlight glare that almost blinds driver coming from the opposite direction. The Motor Vehicle Act prohibits use of headlight at night in city driving. But who cares for the driving rules and for that matter the law of the land. There is far more dangerous driving in day time in Delhi.

At a Global Conclave of the IISSM on safety and security held in Delhi in November last one of the topics discussed was 'Defensive Driving' by a panel which included distin- guished road safety experts. There is a tendency to unfasten the seat belt as you slow down your car before bringing it to a halt. One expert suggested that this practice is not good for you don't know if a vehicle coming from behind might hit you with force causing injury to the occupants on the front seat.

There were many more suggestions by the panel for safe driving. I will discuss it later. Let me first give some interesting but dangerous driving style of people in Delhi.

It is a common experience when you are taking a turn to your left with indicator on, suddenly you find a two wheeler overtaking you from left even when your car is turning left. The man driving two wheeler tries to force his way to the right. A minor slip and you meet with accident.

Why two wheelers even people driving cars turn right when a car ahead is turning left from the left side of the road never mind even when the passage on the road getting narrower by seconds. You are driving on the middle lane of the road or on the left lane of the road. At road crossing you suddenly find a car or a two wheeler driving on the extreme right lane appearing on the road trying to cross to the left turn.

The thumb rule of driving is if you have to take a turn to the left the driving lane should be on the left and not on the right lane of the road. But who cares?

The tendency to take turn either to the left or to the right without giving indicator signal or signal by hand is common on roads. On fast driving lanes particularly with a divider, buses, auto rickshaws and even cars have tendency to stop on the middle of the road even when there is vacant space on the road to the left side. If you are not alert you may hit the stationary vehicle on the road.

Other dangerous practice of pedestrians is alarming. On high speed roads with divider, people often jump the fence from the opposite side of the road taking a driver by surprise when they try to cross the road where there is no Zebra Crossing. This is very dangerous at night for any driver if he or she has not put the headlight on with full beam. Sometime the use of headlight at night become all the more necessary as some trucks, tractors and carts move on road without any rear red light.

Trucks laden with iron rods protruding outside the body of the vehicle have taken life of many people who rammed into the rod laden vehicle unable to see the killer rods. Jumping red light signal is yet another practice seen on roads. If you are driving at comparatively fair speed seeing the green signal you might be hit by vehicle coming from other direction jumping the red light signal. Always slow down your vehicle even when the signal is green to see that no one is coming with speed to jump the red light signal.

The IISSM discussion on Road Safety also highlighted the wrong practice of not fastening seat belt by occupants of car sitting on the rear. The noted comedian and satirist Jaspal Bhatti died few years ago in a road accident because he was sitting in the rear and had not fastened the seat belt. His car driven by someone had hit a tree at night. The panel of experts also suggested that the Motor Vehicle Act should be amended further to prohibit night driving after 12 in the night till 6 a.m. on highways.

Except in case of 'essential journeys' late night driving should be banned. Most of the highway accidents take place because of sleep disorder at night. Talking of road lights, well, vast stretches of Delhi roads and roads of National Capital Region are dark at night. In fact, a news channel is running a 'Roshan Delhi' campaign to light the dark stretches of roads in the capital.

At the end I quote a report of the WHO (World Health Organisation) on Road Safety published in December 2018. Road Safety is also a health concern. "Approximately 1.3 million people die each year on the world's roads, and between 20 and 50 million sustain non-fatal injuries. The Global status report on road safety is the first broad assessment of the road safety situation in 178 countries, using data drawn from a standardized survey.

The results show that road traffic injuries remain an important public health problem, particularly for low-income and middle-income countries. Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists make up almost half of those killed on the roads, highlighting the need for these road users to be given more attention in road safety programmes.

The results suggest that in many countries road safety laws need to be made more comprehensive while enforcement should be strengthened. The Global status report on road safety results clearly show that significantly more action is needed to make the world's roads safer".


* RK Sinha wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is a Member of Parliament Rajya Sabha
This article was webcasted on April 08, 2019.



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