Thursday, November 21, 2013

Show some concern, road users

There was something that really irked me during a recent visit to Chennai.

The state of the road traffic in the country and the strong foundation of make-your-own-rules upon which all the motorized vehicles move is a well-known fact.
  • We won’t stop at a traffic signal if it’s the wee hours of the day or whenever we simply believe that it’s not required.
  • We would never care to indicate before we swerve to change lanes. After all, the driver behind is playing a video game and needs to be alert. Speaking of lanes, the number in most of our roads tends to infinity and they always overlap one another. We would have three cars, two bikes, one bicycle and a cow or a goat all marking their own lanes with millimetre spaces in between.
  • We would blare our horns as loud as possible even when the vehicle in front has stopped because the signal is red. We find it disgusting when others follow rules. Noise did you say! We love that, it gives us a sense of power.
  • Speed limits? What on earth are they? Our speed depends on the number of obstacles, a.k.a the vehicles on our way. Residential areas, school zones, whatever be the locality! We will drive as fast as we like. We hate waiting and loathe queues. We will drive with the sole intention of overtaking all vehicles ahead and reaching our destination in the shortest possible time span. Its like we are representing Ferrari on some international circuit.  
  • No matter how much we are preached about it, we can't wear helmets. We have specially designed heads made of unbreakable material.
These are some things we have to learn to live with for now and no, getting annoyed with it is a useless exercise.

The sight that got on my nerves was that of an ambulance, its sirens screaming out loud, stuck in traffic at a junction. No vehicle was prepared to move and give way. No one seemed to care for the life already struggling for existence inside it or the one fighting against odds while waiting for help to reach it. Ambulances do not need to halt when the signal is red but only if the vehicles in front move, can it proceed right? The autos, two wheelers and cars were involved in their usual hustle-bustle of getting away first and were totally oblivious to the medical vehicle struggling to get out of the chaos.

Many a time I have seen an ambulance fighting its way out even in ongoing traffic. No one would do the simple act of moving aside and letting it pass. I think the traffic police personnel have their own limitations in controlling the public behavior in this regard. It's simply a moral responsibility that every road user should have and exercise.On the other hand, it was heartening to see quite a lot of public message displays the city traffic police had put up in this regard. 

When we step out of the country we would all follow every single rule like stopping yards before ambulances or school buses. We won't have this humanitarian concern when on our own land? What if it had been our kin or for that matter our own self-centred selves inside that white and red vehicle?

Please give way to ambulances. It's definitely a matter of life and death.

Some acts just need a forerunner. Others will soon follow suit.