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.

53 comments:

  1. We are very low on patience when it comes to following the rules on the road regardless of those driving a truck or a Mercedes Benz:(

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    1. True Rahul. We are getting conditioned in the wrong direction

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  2. Its a sad state indeed. Its not the traffic but fhe thought process of the people. They dont give way.

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    1. Thanks for the comment. You are right, the thought process needs to change first

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  3. I totally agree with the mindless honking. Sometimes I wonder if it is an incurable disease that all Indians suffer from.
    As for ambulances, I have seen that sad state too .. Let us hope it changes someday ..

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    1. My husband often says that India is the only country where vehicles carry a 'sound horn' board :),

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  4. This apathy on the roads saddens me. While not following traffic rules is terrible, not allowing an ambulance to move ahead is appalling. Hope sense prevails on the roads... soon!

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    1. In our country people generally talk about empathy and concern only when they are in the situation themselves. I mean, the very man in the ambulance may not have exercised this prudence if somebody else had been in his place. Sad state

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  5. we follow traffic rules outside india out of fear (of being acknowledged as the lone uncivilized person).

    i hope few people, who don't care about the person in the ambulance, read this post.

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    1. I hope so too and also hope they give way when in a similar situation after that

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  6. Indeed it is a matter of life and death. Nobody cares a bit about life. I have seen and experienced this many times. Keep writing :)

    Someone is Special

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    1. I think it's not an uncommon sight on our roads. Thanks for stepping in

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  7. One thing I realized after going to India (Bangalore and Mumbai) this time , I realized that I had lost so much of patience! It was too overwhelming. Driving can be a nightmare !

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    1. Seriously. It's more like some war video game. U need to be alert in all directions

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  8. True. Really irks when people don't give way for ambulances too. In fact, there would be one vehicle , if it waits for a bit, can let a whole traffic jam clear up, but who cares... its always 'Me first'. I think it has something to do with so much population.

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    1. I would say it's the attitude of the population. The situation is at the heights of self centred chaos and traffic is just one of the affected zones. sad

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  9. It is the same everywhere; more of this nuisance can be observed in smaller towns where traffic cops are unavailable. Cities are much better than those.. though, I don't deny the fact that the road users must show concern for others.

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    1. The traffic cops in the city have the worst jobs in the country. Sometimes you see them battling to control vehicles amidst all the dust and heat.

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  10. I agree with you.But,why are we like this?
    If you are in Delhi,you will realise the traffic problems which are faced by a coomon man...VIP routes are blocked for hours before VIPs drive through with their convoy.Its disgusting..If the tradffic is stopped for 15 mnts for an elected representative,why must you and I follow traffic rules?

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    1. Caring for a sick person in an ambulance is just being human and the way VIPs exploit cannot be quoted as an excuse rt ?

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  11. You are correct Jaishree. People on the road always seem to be in a hurry. No body follows traffic rules in Delhi. There is chaos on the roads. Specially during office hours the mad rush makes you 'mad'.

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    1. Someone following traffic rules will find it very difficult to ride or drive on our roads. He is sure to face an accident :)

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  12. I think we are a nation that adheres to any rule or shows any consideration to others only when under threat of severe consequences to ourselves. Thus, in alien lands, we behave ourselves because not behaving invites consequences. Here it does not. Signs of an immature Society when so-called mature people can be made to behave in a civil fashion only be threat of punishment - but can you do, we are like that only.

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    1. Here there is no concept of license getting revoked atleast in practise . It's usually an amount that goes to the cop to getaway. So it's a conducive situation for the immature lot to act as they please

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  13. Exactly!! the people who follow rules to the T abroad would never do the same in their own country. I wonder how their attitudes change with boundaries.
    Here people get ballistic if an ambulance comes it was never the same in Mumbai

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    1. With boundaries it's compliance to fear and the attitude remains as is I suppose

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  14. Not only Chennai, it's the situation is entire India. But yes, give respect to some vehicles, like ambulance and school buses.

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    1. True Saru. No city is better off in this regard.

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  15. Absolutely agree Jaishree! And this thick skinned indifference seems to be repeated in every corner of this country. What we lack, apart from self discipline, is implementation of the traffic violation code. Some time back, I'd also raised my voice about this in in one of my posts "No Horns, please". But I like yours better.

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  16. Not only ambulances even fire-engine should be given preference on roads. but in reality only the Minister;s beacons are given priority.

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  17. It's so sad when people have blinkers over their eyes....they're not concerned with anyone but themselves. However, I've seen taxi drivers use their red cloth to signal an emergency, but only because they don't want to wait at the red light, so it works both ways! Too bad that rules are not followed; it's a case of the boy crying wolf!

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  18. This post has been selected for the Tangy Tuesday Picks this week. Thank You for an amazing post! Cheers! Keep Blogging :)

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  19. Terrible state of affairs, it is! We, as a collective, are moving away from sensitivity.

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  20. I fully endorse your observations. People, instead of giving way to ambulance start watching its movement as to how it navigates! I am taking this liberty of giving a link to my own blog post on the subject written some 2 years back-
    http://srayyangar.blogspot.in/2011/09/traffic-management-in-emergency.html

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  21. The people are not to be blamed......it is the Govt. through its agencies which flout the rules often........the car with red beacon(and there are numerous of them) which are immune from traffic rules, the VVIP squad and these are so many are also immune.Ours is protocol conscious country and there can never be level playing rules in such country. The drivers driving Govt. cars do not follow rules and how come others will follow rules. Here in USA, a car cannot break traffic light even in dreams because violation ticket follows you with heavy penalty and later smudge on your insurance and driving licence. Let Govt abolish its preferential treatment, propose heavy fines and do away with red,blue or yellow light cars. That will not happen so ...... traffic jam remains.

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    1. Because a govt vehicle does so, others do not need to follow suit rt ? But yes, I cannot fully disagree. The ruling folks set the worst possible examples

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  22. The traffic sense in our country is pathetic. It only varies from one state to another and one is slightly better than the other (comparatively)

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  23. True, Jayashree. Like everything else, this country has no rules in traffic. As a pedestrian, I feel safer crossing when it is red than it is green. And if God forbid you get caught in an accident, it becomes a show of strength. The weaker party has to cough up dough even if the other party is at fault.

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    1. Tell me about it TF. It's always like the person in the costlier vehicle is at fault and needs to compensate. The worst part is people come forward to mediate with the pure intention of whisking off an amount for themselves in the whole drama

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  24. As a person who has been in Chennai, I can say the situation has improved are people are being more considerate towards following rules. I personally havent seen an ambulance getting caught up in traffis since people always make way for it, this must probably have been one of those rare occurences. But yes, the traffic sense has a lot to improve. But the good news is, the winds of change are already blowing.

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    1. Hmm, good to know that it's not always like that and that people are changing for the good

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  25. Boy, are you angry! Yes, we as a nation seem to be getting only worse at following traffic rules. I remember coming back in 2010 or 2012 to every biker wearing a helmet, a couple years back it had been made mandatory. Now, I see everyone's slipped back to their old comfort zone. There are a hundred reasons to not wear one. From messing up the hairstyle to feeling hot within the helmet, to not being able to use the phone while riding (this one's classic!) and a bunch of others. There's only one reason to wear it. Safety. But then even that had a counterargument. A recent accident where a biker wearing a helmet met with an accident and succumbed to internal injuries is now a reference case in such arguments, that even wearing helmets cannot assure safety. Who's to remind them about the n number of lives saved by wearing a helmet? I really feel horrid when emergency vehicles get stuck in traffic. There is definitely something wrong with the society judging by the level of apathy we have stooped to. We need solid, measurable punishments - something that people cannot buy their way out of - to make people follow rules. There's enforcing and there's moral. Sadly, we seem to be lacking both!

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    1. People will sometimes argue just for the heck of it. They need to understand that all rules are for their own safety

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  26. I often say that roads are a mirror of society. And the picture is not pretty at all.

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  27. Chennai sounds just like Delhi! We keep cribbing about the sad state of affairs and ironically we are part of the problem.

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  28. Oh yes, this is the situation in every city of this country. I had written multiple rants about the traffic and blatant ignoring of traffic rules in Bangalore.

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  29. We may write thousand blogs about the pathetic mentality of Indian road users, but we shouldn't forget that even we area part of problem. From the top notch politicians to a normal citizen...everybody needs to become open-minded. Think about taking responsibility and not blaming others. People from other nations follow stringent traffic rules not only because they know that they cant get away with it so easily but also because they feel its their moral duty to follow rules whatever may be the place be. To quote an example: When I was in school, we had a teachers' exchange program and a professor from US visited to our institute. Luckily, i was chosen for the hospitality. We received the guest to our car and i noticed he had an empty coke can in his hand as he couldn't locate a dustbin outside. It felt really amazing when i saw him stuffing the can inside his pant pocket even though it made his pants look odd and bulging. We traveled all the way from airport to the school which was around 30 km odd.After reaching, the first thing he did was to find a dustbin which was kept inside the premises and through that can inside it. From then on, i started following his morality, and i wait to find a dustbin to throw any waste. After all if a foreigner can behave in such a respectful manner towards our own environment, why cant we?!
    Hats off for the beautiful post \m/

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  30. This is pretty much the situation in every city except Chandigarh. Chd is the only city I have seen where people do not break traffic rules and it has happened only because of very strict governance. Every one stand behind the zebra crossing.

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  31. Yes Jaishree we have no respect for laws and rules.What's more the authorities too turn a blind eye.So many aspects of road safety are neglected by traffic police whereas they should educate the less informed about what should be done too.

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  32. You know its all said and accepted in theory, but im sure many of our logger friends here who have commented have broke traffic rules one time or the other. Jaish, its all about convenience now. Especially midnight, when people go speeding away, your heart literally pops outta your mouth. BUt well, when everyone talks about this, im so proud that my dad (maybe the Navy influences his actions) , even in teh most nail biting situations follows the rule. Red is Red for him, and nothing changes that. Also i do see a lot of tolerance and adjustments being made especially in cochin when there is an Ambulance in hurry, and also prayers along with that :) .

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  33. Yes,it is sadly true.But road space has not increased in proportion to to increase in automobiles.Permission given tobusiness establishments to build/expand in an already congested area.Cars being parked in someone's road.No deterrent punishment for violations.The list is endless.
    Come to my other blog www.kpsarathi.blogspot.com .

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