This is the second set of guidelines I have put together for promoting equal opportunity and experience on our roads, the motivation for which came out of my experience of driving my son to school one morning, which is captured in my post titled “Driving Skills – 1”, a few days back. The first set was published last week and can be accessed on “Driving Skills – 2”.
I will begin this set addressing an issue that vexes a lot of road-veterans, that of basic courtesies being lost; like giving way to traffic on the right, dipping your headlights at night on an undivided stretch of road when you see an oncoming vehicle, giving way to traffic coming uphill, slowing down when driving through puddles, etc.. Not only are they not practiced, the drivers of today do not even seem to be aware that such courtesies exist.
As I do ever so often, I disagree.
Not only are these courtesies known to the drivers of today, they are actively practiced. To set the record straight, and to ensure that there is no ambiguity, the basic guidelines are:
- give way to traffic on the right, when I am on the right; give way to traffic on the left, when I am on the left
- dip your headlights at night on an undivided stretch of road when you see an oncoming vehicle which is mine
- give way to traffic coming uphill, when I am coming uphill; give way to traffic going downhill, when I am going downhill.
- when approaching a puddle of water on the road close to pedestrians or cyclists, slow down at first, then, without warning, speed up and drive through the puddle such that most of the collected water gets splashed on the pedestrians and cyclists in close proximity; if, at first attempt, the strategy yields limited results, drive around, comes back to the spot, and repeat until the puddle vanishes and becomes safe for future pedestrians and cyclists
A related courtesy is to give way to an ambulance that is in a hurry and is sounding its siren. While some of you may do this out of consideration for the injured and the sick, at all times, whatever be your motivation, be alert and step into the lane created in the ‘wake” of the speeding ambulance so that you can move as fast as the ambulance. Whether the ambulance is going in your direction or not hardly matters.
In addition to using seat-belts, that we covered in the last edition, drunk driving is another area where traffic policemen are trying to become safe by insisting on your driving only when sober. Resist efforts to drive sober. Keep handy “paan”, cardamom, mint and other aromatic condiments to disguise the smell of liquor.
Do you still eat while driving? Are you still texting while threading your way through a crowded, narrow street? If you do, you need to seriously consider if you should still be driving at your age? This is 2014. And almost the start of the last calendar quarter. If you don’t have a TV in the car for the driver to view while driving, you will, henceforth, not be eligible for getting a driving licence. Get one today.
“No Parking” signs discourage parking alongside kerbs. There are no signs discouraging double and triple-parking alongside illegal single-parked vehicles alongside kerbs. If other people can park alongside “No Parking” kerbs, surely you can double-park and triple-park. How do you think Call Centres operate transport for employees in our country and keep costs low at the same time?
If you had pulled over and stopped on the side of the road, and now need to get back into the moving traffic lane, pull out suddenly, without checking if someone is coming and without any prior indication. This can be done whether you are single or double or triple-parked. Only if you suddenly pull out into the busy traffic lane will you be able to ensure that the other drivers are vigilant and minimise future traffic incidents. We all have to shoulder these responsibilities from time to time. We cannot expect the authorities to handle everything.
Opening the driver’s side door into the moving traffic lane, without checking for oncoming traffic, could be used as an alternative to driving out, in case you do not wish to leave your hard-earned, illegally-parked spot.
It is unlikely that you don’t already know this, but all footpaths (sidewalks / pedestrian paths) have been converted into Free Parking zones, even though no notification has been issued for the same. If you still find any in existence, use them. For free parking. In most cases you will be assisted by illegal touts who would be available for renting out the public space of the footpath.
If the society has enable you to earn the money to buy a car, it needs to provide for parking it as well. You do not need to have a place to park before you buy a car. Of course, society does not give out brains and good sense. The government is mulling over a bill that will make selling a car to anyone who has the space to park it, illegal. If, perchance, you happen to possess a parking space for your car, ensure that it is utilised for another more important purpose like installing a generator, making flower-beds, or illegal extension of your house, leaving you no choice but to park on public space.
Drive like a banshee. If you don’t know what banshee means, don’t worry. Chances are that you drive like one anyway.
If all else fails,
- hire goons with no self-esteem to shoo people out of the way of your car (while you sit inside wearing a white kurta-pyjama and a Gandhi cap)
- buy a red beacon and a siren from Khan Market and instal it on top of your car
And, lastly, never ever follow a traffic rule because it makes sense and is the right thing to do and will make for a safer and more wholesome driving environment. Do so only if there if danger of being caught. You will never go wrong.