Since the time I first sat behind the wheel in Itanagar, I have learned a few driving etiquettes, but I have also realized that my driving etiquettes are a joke. The entire Indian traffic system is a joke, and almost everyone violates the traffic rules.
People like me, who follow the rules, are mocked at. After all, the process of acquiring a driving licence does not require the knowledge of traffic rules or even the ability to ride or drive. Anyone can get one without even visiting the office concerned, with the help of agents, just by paying a little cash.
Those who ride bikes and scooters in the capital have reached the heights of annoyance. From 15-year-olds to fully grown persons, they don’t know how to use the turn indicators or use the brake. These enlightened creatures choose honking as an alternative to braking.
There are multiple instances in which a single stuck vehicle causes a traffic jam; but rather than letting it leave first, everyone tries to make way for themselves. So you are stuck in this traffic and moving at a tortoise’s pace, and then you see local Trekkers passing by like a flash on your left and right, as if they are driving in an adventure sport.
And then there are the superhuman drivers who, upon noticing the heavy traffic, change their lane in an attempt to reach their destinations early – not to mention the soul of Indian roads, the stray animals, mostly the holy cows, who have also adapted to the city traffic and don’t budge from the main roads, adding to the already messed-up traffic circus.
We are about to get four lanes in the capital, which will probably ease traffic congestion, but if we ignore the importance of traffic rules, we could be paving the way for increased road accidents and traffic rules violations. Most of the casualties and fatalities are caused by the indifference of the people towards road safety rules.
It’s about time we started to create massive awareness on traffic rules and sensitized drivers to follow lane discipline. Also, the government needs to come up with strict rule enforcement and riding tests, which would contribute to safety and security on the roads of the capital.
Daniel K Deb,