Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Traffic Sense and Courtesy while driving

I am a Bengalurian who shares a common hatred with every other Bengalurians : the hatred towards Pathetic Traffic Sense of Bengalurians (including mine). Well, you might prefer to differ with me saying, "Hey, I do follow all the traffic rules". My sincere thanks to you for being an exceptionbut you are what you are, an exception.. 

Traffic Jam in Hyderabad

Its quite amazing to know that my friends in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Delhi compete with me in cursing their city traffic. Statements start flowing :

"Kolkota-r driver-der driving sense sob-cheye baje"
"Aila, Mumbaitla Traffic Sense sarvat bekaar ahe"
"Bengluralli janardu kittogiro Traffic Sense maga"

As an argumentative Indian, I never want to give up any arguments and hence we argue everytime we meet up on traffic, invariably so because one of them would have reached the hang-out place 30 minutes behind sechedule :)

I was on a brief visit to USA in Feb 2008 and obviously, I was amazed by the lane discipline and the overall driving courtesy. 

1) When you see the board "Stop and Proceed", you actually stop and then proceed.
2) You stop your vehicle, calmly communicate with the person driving opposite to you about your next action (parking, taking reverse etc) and thank him for stopping for that time.
3) You stop the vehicle when you see a person crossing the path and the pedestrian thanks you for stopping. 

I rationalized the presence of driving courtesy in the US (and the lack of it in India) by giving myself the following reasons.

1) Too many vehicles in India, more than what Indian roads can handle.
2) More 2 wheelers in India, more people "filling the gap" in a traffic signal.
3) A very questionable and outdated test for obtaining your driving license.
4) Fast track life, too much stress and lack of concentration while driving.
5) A better and non-corrupt enforcement of traffic rules and huge fine levied upon breaking rules. 

I'm in Tanzania (Dar Es Salaam) and I am surprised to inform you that my rationalization is, well, irrational.. Here I see the same problems as in India (questionable test methods for driving license, a lot of vehicles, more two wheelers), yet the people here have much better driving courtesy than we do. 

Traffic Jam in Dar Es Salaam

Q : Is it to do with culture?
A : I don't think so, the Indians here (NRIs and PIOs) have good driving courtesy

Q : Has it to do with enforcement?
A : The enforcement body (Traffic Police) is comparable to India in all sense :)

I was having a conversation with my colleague here who's in Dar Es Salaam for 3 years now. He made a point which TOTALLY answered my confusions and cleared my thoughts about the difference. 

As per his (and my) logic, it is the "non-geared" vehicles which are making the difference. In India, I get way too irritated after 1 hour of driving in Delhi and shifting gears every 15 seconds adds to the frustration. Here in Dar Es Salaam (and in USA too), most of the vehicles are with "Automatic GearBox". Needless to say your effort to press the clutch and change the gear everytime you accelerate/decelerate is avoided. Its like driving a Honda Activa, even simpler because you don't have to worry about its balance. :)

Trust me, 1 hour of driving in a country where the infrastructure has still not yet coped with the economic growth is way to painful. I am quite convinced that if the number of vehicles with Automatic GearBox will surely make us, Indians to learn better driving courtesy because culturally, we're "Hardwired" to show sympathy and to be considerate.. But considering that Hydraulic Automatic Gearbox is less fuel efficient than manual transmission gearbox, it might be hard for this system to work out in India. 


Nik said...

Nice post... I had a different take though - Have a look http://lifeasiknowit-nik.blogspot.in/2010/12/remove-thorn-with-thorn.html

PS said...

I am not sure of geared or non geared version of yours.. But I feel THE GREAT INDIAN RICKSHAW- walla s are a traffic threat .. They are what i call owners of the road.. zero traffic sense.. n -10 patience..

Kirankumar D G said...

Hey i started reading your blogs. very nicely written