Terrific Traffic Woes

Driving, they say, is so much fun. While growing up I read about Nancy Drew driving through beautiful roads in her blue mustang and I said to myself ‘wow! It must be fun!’ Naïve as I was, I too began harboring the dream of being all grown up and driving through wide roads with the wind in my hair. But today when I think of even attempting to drive, I picture myself bashing moronic drivers, pedestrians and the especially annoying creatures on bikes more than driving.  And that’s not all; I imagine doing all that with the wind literally blowing out of my ears and my nose! Somehow it just doesn’t seem to be remotely related to my definition of ‘fun’; more so when I add the traffic situation of our cities and towns on top of that!

Would you by any chance believe me if I told you that following traffic rules is actually one of the ways to ensure that you would live another day?  Your instant answer would obviously be ‘yes absolutely’, wouldn’t it? Infact, you would be thinking why I am even asking such a senseless and obvious question! But before you jump to any conclusion about me, go out for a drive or better yet wait till you travel for work the next morning and then answer! I am sure after the refresher course on our roads; you would come back echoing the thought that I have been having for quite a while now- Traffic; traffic all around and people driving like clowns! Yes, we as a nation are so blatantly traffic (rule) impaired that it seems we don’t really want to live another second, let alone another day! We would rather let every damn traffic rule go for a toss even if that was at the cost of our lives!

The way we drive or even walk on the streets would make an outsider conclude that we are a bunch of Neanderthals; unsuitable of living in the present day and age! Perhaps they are right and we should go back to bullock carts and palanquins, for we seem to have been hardwired only for that kind of transport!

We are impatient to a degree that could even drive any rational person crazy. It is preposterous and humiliating for us to wait for the signal to turn green before stomping on the accelerator! Over speeding to jump red signals is our second nature! We would rather risk horrible accidents than wait for a minute or two to cross safely. We lack every virtue of a good driver and even a good pedestrian for that matter! This innate urgency, I am not quite sure from where it comes, but it is definitely intricately woven in our DNAs! And to add fuel to this horrendous fire of erroneous traffic situation we have the high and mighty kings on their bikes too; as if those in cars and those walking weren’t enough!

Every day I see hundreds of people and an even greater number of vehicles on the roads. But that is expected considering we are a country of billions! But inspite of that, how hard would it be to follow some basic rules? It certainly is no rocket science!

India’s traffic mess is malignant and has been so for several years now. Its future too doesn’t seem bright either. Lacking in infrastructure and traffic management, the only viable option that could make life on roads a little easier would be adherence to rules! But achieving that is no less than squaring the circle!

We drive at 100 kmph where the speed limit is 80kmph; we take U-Turns where they are not allowed; we drive in mad rush through residential neighborhoods, we don’t understand the concept of one-ways and we definitely do not agree to the theory of lane drive being safe drive! And the traffic impairment is not limited when we are inside a car but extends well beyond it too! We do not wait for the traffic to stop for crossing roads for that would be atrocious; we don’t really like walking on footpaths and we love to cross even with a speeding car approaching, assuming that it would just magically stop!

The only time we seem to abide by the rules is when we see a traffic cop or van in the vicinity else it’s just the cacophonic symphony of brash drivers coupled with foolhardy pedestrians. What’s with this country, including my naïve self; that we can’t do something as basic as follow rules? Well, as much as I’d like to believe that one day we would follow the rules and be a more educated nation in terms of discipline on the roads; I can safely say that that’s not going to happen. I guess I just need to put away my dreams of driving around like Ms. Drew, with the wind in my hair, in a box and tuck it away for good!