First, Happy New Year to all of you, but let me temper my good wishes with a sobering thought. In 2019, another 150,000 Indians, possibly more are going to die on the roads of this country. Although, to be honest there are times that one wonders why more people do not die on the roads every year. Indian traffic after all is like classical Brownian motion of particles, moving around in random directions but never seeming to touch each other. Everyday while driving in India, actually no matter where in this country, you notice hundreds of motorcyclists without helmets, others triple-rising with impunity, folks on cars and motorcycles making calls while driving, heavily overloaded public transport and what not.
It is a madhouse out there and I will be honest, in such a madhouse I also fall foul of the rules sometimes. When it comes to using my phone, I do not physically use my handset anymore thanks to technologies like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto which are controlled through voice assistants. That said, there are studies out there that prove that using a phone even through a hands-free technology can distract you. And that is something I understand. Imagine if you have a fight with someone on the phone while driving? How can you possibly be paying full attention to the act of driving? And it is getting worse. A few weeks ago I noticed someone making a video call while driving. It all seems hunky-dory until that split second where something unexpected happens and well, your life, as you know it, is over.
Sure, there will be a lot of interesting new cars coming to India this year which I am looking forward to drive and I’m sure there will be some interesting experiences with cars on foreign shores as well, but this year I genuinely wish for another thing. That we all resolve to drive a bit better, drive gentler, be more considerate to others on the roads and generally be nicer road users. I understand that there are days that are frustrating and that driving in this country can be an extremely irritating experience and we can carry on saying ‘what about them’. But whataboutery will not improve the roads, better behaviour will, because let us be honest, I really doubt that traffic enforcement is going to dramatically improve other than the core areas of some major cities. I really hope it does, but it is contingent on us to be better ourselves.
So if you make just one resolution for 2019 let it this, be a better driver, be the better driver.
Writer: Kushan Mitra
Courtesy: The Pioneer