Traffic laws taken for granted in the developed countries are flouted here by everyone. The accident rate in India is one of the highest in the world. No one can be sure of reaching home safely. And if they do, the unhappy memories of roadside accidents, abuses of fellow drivers and the irritation at the total disregard for rules linger on.
Vehicles from a side road suddenly cut into the main traffic. The drivers don’t care if it is correct or if he is causing a problem to others. It is left to the mainstream vehicles to swerve frantically to avoid a collision or stop and let the intruder go. We do not give way; we rush in to grab way. Very few give signals sufficiently ahead of turning to one side or changing lane. We just enter, slow down, stop or turn to any side as we please. Who cares how the others manage!
Vehicles are seen parked intruding into the carriageway. Many drivers stop at the very center of the road to chat with a friend or wait for an oncoming vehicle to catch up. If anyone dares to point out the mistake, an outburst of abuses will be encountered. Private buses always stop at the center of the road itself. It obstructs traffic but who cares! They never give side to the faster vehicles from behind. The sad part is that no one feels sorry for a mistake!
No one keeps to one’s lane; they go zigzag horning. Slow moving ones chose the faster lane and go in a majestic slow pace with an attitude, ‘who are you to question my right?’ While overtaking, drivers do not make sure that the overtaking sight distance is clear of incoming traffic. The incoming ones have to swerve or slow down or halt altogether to avoid a hit. How many have perished in such accidents! Drivers do not let another overtake but accelerate as soon as they find one inching forward. Two wheelers do not give way for faster traffic. They appropriate the center of the road or a faster lane. As there are millions of them and as there is no two-wheeler lane, the whole traffic is a mess. Autos, zigzag and snake through where there is a breathing space. Everyone wants to outsmart everyone else in this dangerous, impatient chaos.
If one tries to keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front, others will rush from behind to fill the ‘vacuum.’ Our drivers try to rush forward through the mess, blaring of horns and high pitched shouts. Pandemonium prevails at every roundabout and unguarded junction. With civilized driving one cannot pass through. There is no rule like ‘first come first go’ but we rush forward declaring ‘might is right.’
Pedestrians do not confine to the footpath or sides; they walk along the road disrupting the smooth flow of traffic. Religious processions and political rallies inch forward through the centre of the road blocking traffic for hours. The participants seem to relish the agony of the passengers. The traffic police linger here and there indifferently incapable of doing anything to rectify the situation. If there is a festival in a church or temple by the road side, it will obstruct the traffic for hours!
Loaded trucks are seen reversing into the main thoroughfares. As soon as the traffic grinds to a halt, an anarchic situation prevails. In the single lane roads 2 or 3 lines are squeezed into. Two wheelers whistle in between the rows of vehicles jostling to inch forward. Some of them lie crisscross; others wedge their bonnets between two adjacent ones whirring their engines impatiently. Cyclists thrust forward jingling bells; hooting autos snake in dangerously from nowhere. Even fully loaded buses struggle to move forward from the sidelines. Cows and goats can also be seen jostling for space to move on. It is all a melee and the jungle law prevails.
To make our rights a reality, others’ rights have to be respected. If everyone does what he/she wants—as it happens in our roads—utter chaos would result. Our roads are a free for all melee. Yes, the juggernaut somehow pulls on but it lacks civility.