By Maxwell Pereira
I was asked recently by a foreign newspaper: "What are
the most common driver faults among Delhi's motorists? To what
extent is it skilled drivers who choose to violate laws, or unskilled
drivers who undergo lapses in concentration or poor judgement?
And what attitude do Delhi motorists have towards the traffic
what really could one answer this one with! Much as I hate to
be that 'carpenter who blames his tools for the shabby product'
nor do I enjoy pointing fingers - I find myself taking recourse
to the oft-repeated malady, deemed to be the root cause. The driver
licensing system in India, unfortunately has not been as stringent
as it should have been - so much so, millions of authorised drivers
come on the road and take to the wheel without the required basic
knowledge of the rules of the road. I will touch on driver attitudes,
despite the fact that in Delhi the system has improved considerably
over the past few years, given the fact that there are already
over 4 million old driving license holders who secured their DLs
from the local transport authorities earlier, and the more dominant
fact that drivers with licences obtained from any other transport
authority anywhere else and from all over the country are free
to drive also in Delhi - this I believe, is no great help to change
driver behaviour over night in Delhi.
this scenario, the most common driver faults among Delhi's motorists
are - their utter lack of knowledge as to the basic rules of the
'right of way', and an aggressive lack of consideration towards
the other road user leading to bull-dozing and cutting into another's
path. All this invariably leads to wrong overtaking, misplaced
sense of one's own right on the road, a wanton disregard to traffic
signals, indiscriminate honking, obstructive/ unauthorized parking,
disregard to the prescribed norms in display of registration number
plates, driving without helmet and hazardous triple riding on
two-wheelers, and other common violations like non-adherence to
lane discipline, not yielding the right of way to fellow drivers
leading to road hogging, zig-zagging, and other forms of rash
& negligent driving.
Delhi being a city that still can boast of wide roads with a considerably
comfortable surface capable of giving motorists ample opportunity
to achieve speeds not conducive to city traffic, the tendency
to over speed beyond the prescribed limits is rampant. And I believe
greater indulgence in the Bacchus today than before in the younger
generation coupled by the Page-3 motivation for late nite party-ing,
merits no less a place in the list of overall compilation of driver
regrettably, due to perhaps the aggressive driver behaviour intrinsic
to the north Indian more than the south Indian, it is the skilled
if one were to consider those with valid licenses
as skilled) too who tend to violate traffic rules/regulations
here with impunity. Unskilled drivers who do not possess driving
licences are obviously not permitted to drive a motor vehicle.
But there is without doubt a vast component of other road users
who operate a plethora of non-motorised category of slow-moving
vehicles contributing no less to the chaotic scenario that makes
the task of any Traffic Manger a real nightmare.
the circumstances, I believe the Indian driver prides on his capability
- defined or can be described as a skill, a rare combination of
the sleight of his hands on the wheel to coordinate with the deftness
of his feet on the brake or the accelerator and a total reliance
on his keen reflexes to cater to unforeseen contingencies with
a readiness for the unexpected unpredictable move or manoeuvre
of the other road user - making him perhaps the best example of
a 'defensive driver' in the negative sense.
And so, surprisingly, lapses in concentration or poor judgement
while driving by skilled drivers are something distant to the
psyche and constitute a nominal percentage of the total traffic
violations in so far as city driving is concerned.
attitude of the public towards the police, in my opinion, is both
of hatred and love. The law abiding motorists appreciate the efforts
of Delhi Traffic Police; while the frequent traffic violators
do criticize traffic cops for being high-handed or dishonest,
in a circumstance where the giver tends to be happier than the
taker for being let off with a lesser amount in lieu of the prescribed
quantum of fine - and strangely, it is this that turns their attitude
to hate. That the system is fraught with temptations galore for
either is no secret - and battling this malady is no less a Herculean
words: dated 24.08.2004.
Copy Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725 Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002.
You can interact with the author at http://
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