Terrifying or Terrific Traffic? It is our first impression

Traffic in India is one of the first things that a visitor from a foreign nation (first world) would notice and needless to say, as a scary prospect. It is easy to see why, the first step you take in a country is to step on the road to reach to your destination. That’s our first impression and it is scary. Anyway, that’s not the main reason why I think we need to give our traffic issues a thought. A more worthwhile reason for me is the fact, that having spent all my life in India and in middle of this traffic, I too find it scary most of the times and annoying all the times. The fact that I always stayed within a couple of KMs from my workplace tells the story.
When faced with unpleasant circumstances, there are multiple levels you can try and solve it. I can think of three discrete levels at which thinking is warranted for our road safety and driving experience

Avoid: Why are we in the situation in the first place? Could we have done or do something to avoid it? Let’s forget what could be done in past. If I were a planner and I have zero experience in these kind of things, here are the rules I will make for myself for future

    - Adjust your calculations of projected growth to have a factor of safety. If you are building 2 lanes, make them 4 or 6
    - The underground ecosystem is extremely important, think as far ahead as possible. Ensure the roads can be opened any time you like without any need to break of the road
    - Build to Last: re-building roads seem like a massive waste of time and money
    - Public transport – buses/metros and trains need to form the backbone of city’s transportation. There can be nothing else acceptable.
        -- Either increase road tax or parking fees (and punish illegal parking) to achieve either less vehicles or less vehicles on road
        -- Remove the need for transporting people: Build self contained areas. Change the cities bit by bit to get to this model

Manage: Now that we are in it and can't escape it in the short term, what can we do to manage it so that while it remains annoying it doesn't lead to any real damage. Considering Bangalore traffic, here are some pertinent advice based on behavior here

    - Pedestrians: Please don’t challenge and annoy vehicles to come and get you.
        -- Some of them even hang their head down, clearly indicating that they have taken a leap of faith and will simply not do anything to save themselves relying purely on others to keep them alive. Please stop.
        -- Some of them are not able to decide whether to stop or proceed causing massive confusion. I wish confusion was a crime punishable by law
        -- Some try to play traffic cops by directing the vehicles to stop even though it’s the vehicles’ right of way.

    - Drivers/Riders:
        -- High Beams: Not sure of you ever realized that you are driving or riding on high beam. I am pretty sure you find the high beam coming from front annoying and it’s quite possible that you are doing the same without being aware. Please check. "Deer caught in headlights" is a phrase signifying inability to act for some good reason.
        -- Lanes: If you need to turn left, stay in left lane and so on, think ahead for God’s sake. Don’t be lame, follow lanes ;)
        -- No talking on phone while driving/riding, it’s worse than DUI.

Damage Avoidance: If the situation gives rise to a disaster are we ready to tackle it, if not, make amends, minimize the damage
    - Helmets: Rule number 1, helmets are not supposed to be worn as a symbol of respect for traffic cops. They are worn to protect “you”
    - Seat Belt: Same as helmet. Also, trying to clutch a seat belt to appease a cop while actually not wearing it is a lot more dangerous and obviously as counterproductive as it can be considering its objective.
    - Air bags: Apparently it takes only 50 dollars to put air bags in a car, if that is indeed the case, don’t see a reason why this shouldn't be a rule for every car in the country

If you have any doubts on the importance of any of the above, it will be good to checkout Nissan Safety Driving Forum, won’t be hard for you to judge for yourself how critical these simple things are. Great to see Nissan taking an initiative on this, now let us do our bit!

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