Sunday, December 14, 2014

Safety In Driving

I never thought that I would be writing this article on Safety. Though I always that there was a need to educate, but not everyone is ready to listen, especially when it comes to driving. The phrase 'I am always Right' is more likely to be applicable for most drivers. Including me... and only a few moments later I realize that I was wrong a few moments back.

My only contribution in this stream of blogging was towards the attitude which we have towards ambulances. With time, I gave up on that, but all that I do is do my bit and follow the logic which I feel works well to give way to ambulances in Bangalore.

After driving for the last 10 years in Bangalore, and also travelling long distance, I can say I have covered a little more than 130,000kms(driven by me). This includes city driving on my Tata Indica and Swift Dzire and most of my long drives have been on the DZire, as can be seen on most of the posts on this blog of mine.

Things to consider During City Driving -
In Bangalore, there is nothing called Lane Driving. I call driving in Bangalore an a form of art. You trace the shortest route possible, without hindering anyone in between and slowly move towards your goal. But not everyone is so gentle, when maneuvering the lanes. My request, try to follow the car in front and stick to the pseudo lane created.

No or less Honking - I really don't see much use of honking unless someone is coming dangerously close to you, or someone is busy messaging on the phone at a traffic signal. I mean everyone on the road, (mostly) are on the way to a given place, and they will move. How will it benefit, More importantly, its very irritating to other drivers.

Give Way to Pedestrians - India is one of the countries , where the pedestrian is given least importance. Sometimes, it becomes difficult to stop for every single person crossing the road, due to the huge number of pedestrians, but when the signal is meant for pedestrians to cross the road, respect that.

Avoid Full Beam - This is a worst torture one can get from other drivers. Unless, its really dark and cannot see the road , I really don't see the need of the beam to be used in city driving. It not only irritates the person in opposite direction but also the one infront of you. The reflected from the rear view mirror is worse and this can give chances for an accident. I do tend to flash the high beam when the one coming in the opposite direction is on full beam, but then once he has passed by, switch over. Don't let the chain reaction to set in.

Dont Speak on the Phone : I know these rules are mainly followed by the law abiding drivers and most of the times I see the cab drivers,using them and in the bargain lose track of the lane in which they are travelling. Highly prone to accidents.
One point which I don't understand is, why is using the headphones or bluetooth for speak against the law. I do feel that using them to speak is much much safer and doesn't really disturb driving.Its as good as  talking to a fellow passenger in the car. Well, on the other hand, when the F1 drivers cruising at 300kmph per hour can talk and listen on their radio attached to their helmets, why is simple headphones and blue tooth against the law, though we travel at much much lower speeds.
I do feel this is a topic for debate.

Ambulances - This has been my pain point and I am sure for many others and everyone feels helpless when an ambulance is right behind you and you dont have a inch to move. First of all, the sirens on the ambulances are not as loud as I have heard them in US or such countries. This should be loud enough so that the traffic policeman can hear and clear the traffic.
Secondly, In the case of tight traffic and no place to move ahead, one option which is normally available is to move behind(Not if the ambulance is Behind you.. if its away). This will give room to other vehicles to move and let the Ambulance move ahead.
On the other hand, there is no definite rule which says, which side of the road a vehicle should move, if a ambulance or Fire Brigade is behind you. In US, we need to move to the slowest land and that way the fastest lane is available for the ambulance to move. Here, no one knows which side to move and nor does the ambulance know, which lane will be available for the vehicle to cross across.
These rules should first be tabled and then passed on to everyone. These questions are mandatory in the US when applying for the licence and serves the purpose, as in everyone reads them , for the sake for exam at least and in the bargain, knows what to do.

For the long Drives - 
With time we have seen nicer roads in India and better cars which has induced the culture of road trips. I have done many of them when I go home to Goa from Bangalore.

Some of the Safety Tips which I use during my Trips -

If its a long drive, around 600-700kms that I need to cover in a day, I start slow. I feel its more like marathon, where we need to plan for the whole journey and I prefer by going slow in the beginning. Once the tempo is set and you get good highways, you can rave up the speed in good light and straight roads.

Keep your self, hydrated and also keep munching sometime, time and again. Though we feel that we are only sitting in one place, the mind if busy working and lot of food and water is required. I like to carry energy drinks like Gatorade.

Don't over take every single vehicle you encounter on the road. If the vehicle in front of you actually reduces your driving speed, then surely you should, if not , just follow. Its less of mental drain, when you just follow a vehicle which is driving in the same speed range as you are. I call them the Guide vehicles.

When Stopping on the road, show the lights and indicate to the vehicles behind that you are slowing down. Don't stop suddenly and when you actually stop, make sure you leave enough room for the other vehicles to pass.

On the expressways, the seat belts are a must, and so are the air bags in the car. In India, its only the high end cars which are fitted with the airbags and its considered as a luxury item. I strictly feel that every single vehicle should be equipped with a Air bag and ABS. These are a must. The other luxurious can be made as optional, but not really these.

Coming to the requirements in the car - I prefer one with a nice music system, its a must. Without music the journeys are not really journeys. The seats should be very comfortable so that your legs don't get all the cramps, which means more leg room. Adjustable steering wheel.

The list can go on - But to summarize at the end, for a good drive you need a nice car which keeps your mind at peace and when your mind is calm and peaceful, nothing is better in terms of Safety Precaution.