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Posted at: May 13, 2017, 12:47 AM; last updated: May 13, 2017, 12:47 AM (IST)GOOD MOTORING

Slow, but not steady

Slow, but not steady
Basic lessons: The younger generation must be taught the importance of following rules and regulations of road safety

H. Kishie Singh

Recently, a Parliamentary panel recommended the government that speed limits be set in accordance with Indian road conditions. The reasoning was that speed limits were set according to international standards at the moment. A brilliant idea, but utterly flawed!

While building roads, three things are of utmost importance. One, the road; two, the car; and three, the driver. It should be kept in mind that in 90 per cent of road crashes, driver’s error is the cause. As such, roads should be built to accommodate bad drivers. And it is a universal truth that Indians are bad drivers.

Here we are in the 21st century and our roads are still third-world quality. Bumpy, wavy, broken and pot holed.

The government constructs the roads up to international standards. So, there are slip roads, over bridges, under passes — these are known as ‘spaghetti junction’. However, that still fails to address our issues. The trouble is that we do not have a traffic management expert on building roads. What applies to the rest of the world does not work in India.

If we do find such a rare species, an expert, what do we do of the Indian driver — an indisciplined maniac, with near suicidal, murderous tendencies, a complete disregard for rules, regulations, road etiquette and decency… How are you going to tame this dangerous beast? Build roads not in accordance with Indian road conditions, but with the Indian driver’s habits and attitude.

It may sound rude and extreme but the fact remains: Over two lakh people are killed on Indian roads every year. The Global Road Safety Report 2015 released by the WHO confirms this. 

Rather than spending energy and money on building roads and then toss a coin (so much easier than making a decision) as to road standards, it would be worthwhile to concentrate on teaching children about road safety from a tender age. Teach them the importance of following road rules and regulations, the importance of being a good, law-abiding and disciplined citizen. Everything else will follow.

And it will work! Here is why. Recently I got a call from a young lady. It was early morning. She greeted me politely. “Uncle,” she said, “I have just read your Good Motoring article. My dad makes me read it. He says that before I get my licence, I should know road signs, rules and how to be a good driver. “Uncle, I have written 10 golden rules for road safety. Shall I read them out?”

It was one of the most heartwarming phone calls I have ever received. And the rules were:

  • Stop or slow down for pedestrians to cross.
  • Buckle up.
  • Mo’bikers,  wear a helmet.
  • Obey speed limits.
  • Obey traffic rules and signs.
  • Be courteous.
  • Keep vehicle road worthy.
  • Don’t use mobile phone while driving.
  • Never mix drinking and driving.
  • Never drive dangerously.
If a young lady, still without a driving licence, is in a position to give this advice, there is hope for the country. Actually, it is the father who should be complimented and he must take the credit.

Happy motoring!

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