Road Safety

We live in an age where we have stopped to marvel at all the extraordinary things that happen around us. This is mainly because what used to be extraordinary has become common and within easy reach of everyone. The only time you look at the world with the eyes of wonder is when you go out of your own country and look at the way the others live.

Walking through the streets of London I often stop to admire the way the traffic moves. I find it incredibly heartening that drivers actually stop to let pedestrians cross the road even at cross-roads where there are no traffic lights. I know that there is a high number of fatal road accidents in the UK but it would be considered only a minor figure compared to the statistics in India. Everything is relative, as they say.

Why, I wonder, is it so difficult to even want a disciplined traffic in India? Why does everyone feel that we can not make people obey traffic rules?

The troubling truth is that those who actually know the traffic rules would form a very small minority in the entire population of any city or even a medium size town in India. The even greater amazing truth is that no one is bothered about this, not even the police. Teenagers drive scooters without a driving licence to go to schools. Most men in their 20s and 30s think there is something heroic in breaking traffic rules. Most people look at traffic rules as something the police forcefully subject us to.

Although India has gone ahead in so many fields there are many things which are still at a very basic level. Until recently people did not have enough money to buy cars and now there are more cars than road space. The new cars are there but not the knowledge to live in this new urban roadscape. When are people going to wake up and start re-organising their lives around this new situation?

In the meantime I stand in admiration as even the big red buses come to a halt when the tiny old woman puts her foot on the zebra crossing, on her way to the supermarket.

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