Wednesday, December 15, 2010

This holiday season drive safely

Year end is here and so is festive season (Christmas is just few days away). We all will have social gatherings of family, friends and co-workers. Fun and holiday cheer will be ruling everywhere. But this also is the time to be a little careful. A lot of people will be out there to attend Parties thus there will be more vehicles on the road. due Higher number of vehicles combined with more people being under the influence of alcohol increases the possibility of mis-happenings. It is that time of the year when we need to practice some extra precaution and drive safely.

Here are a few tips to keep you safe while you are driving this holiday season:

  1. Never drink and drive because it is a dangerous combination. Drinking even in small amounts will affect your judgment.
  2. Decide on one person for every party who will not consume Alcohol. This person can take the responsibility of driving back to home safely.
  3. If you for any reason do not have a person who can be designated as non drinker for the day call a cab or a driver to drop you home safely.
  4. If you are hosting a party don't let your guests drive when they drink. Insist that they stay back at your place.
  5. Driving too fast ain't going to save any time for you. So Don't be monster behind wheel.
  6. Make sure that you and the passengers are wearing seat belts.
  7. Avoid using cell phones.

These tips will ensure that you arrive at your destination without having an accident. It is critical to drive responsibly because you may take every precaution yourself but you have no control on how others drive. Also we should avoid any road rage as far as possible after all road rage does not only cause injury it also spoils all your party fun. Make this season a happy holiday season.
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Car Companies should come forward to help improving Delhi Traffic

Somebody asked me 2 days back to describe the problems I am facing living in India,I just replied expeditiously that “Traffic and Pollution is on top of my listand I am sure everyone at least who lives in metro city like Delhi must be facing the same. But the biggest problem with us is that we always curse India/Govt. for such issues. And this is wrong it’s not always the govt. to be blamed for, it’s equally “You” and “Me” “We have to stop it by ourselves”. You all may have experienced and seen many times on roads that people like to break the lane system (common form of traffic violation) and I am sure most of us don’t even know what the lane system is. We never hesitate to overtake other vehicles from left side which is illegal. And also sometimes it’s often happened to see on Delhi roads that people block the left turn even when it is free and some fools park their cars just before the red lights which makes that road more congested. It’s just indicating “City lack traffic sense”.

As I always mention in my articles that “Everyone is responsible for road safety so each should be educated by traffic rules and laws” However DTP have already been making efforts for spreading traffic safety materials/tips through organizing various programs, exhibitions, shows etc. But I am amazingly glad to know that our Delhi got a helping hand i.e. a Car Company Hyundai Motor India also helping in this regards and introduced a road safety program in 2006 known as “Hundai Traffic Squad” in association with Delhi Traffic Police (DTP) and Institute of Road Traffic Education. Its primary aim is to infuse awareness of traffic rules and regulations. It is a student traffic volunteer scholarship scheme under which young college and university students are trained and imparted knowledge about signaling, traffic control devices, road laws, types of road users and driving. They help the police in management of traffic for about three hours during peak hours because during these hours people rush to go home can cause pedestrian crashes and also help bus drivers and passengers at the bus stops by preventing overcrowding and jostling while boarding. I really appreciate this idea of Hyundai to educate people about traffic rules and regulations. This will not only make people aware but also enforce them to maintain road discipline by following traffic rules. These efforts may not solve the all problems but somewhere certainly help in improving road safety. Apart from Delhi, Hyundai is further thinking to initiate a similar scheme in other metro cities like Kolkata, Bangalore and Mumbai.

Providing information is a benefit only if it is organized, processed and available in a proper way to the people and the same is what Hyundai is doing. I would suggest like Hyundai other car/automobiles companies (Tata Motors, Maruti Udhyog, Toyota and Hindustan Motors) should also come forward to improve Delhi traffic by promoting traffic awareness for road safety. Organizing road safety programs such as driving training, driver behavior can help in reducing accidents and control driver performance (cause high risk crashes). Books donation can also be a new creative tool to spread info. This in turn can provide a platform to conduct behavioral studies about the drivers which could be useful for new automobile designs. The Advertising mileage is an extra dividend that they get.

Recently 120 university students joined traffic volunteer’s scheme for 2010-11 and will support DTP during Commonwealth Games. It’s primary aim to assist traffic police during peak hours in traffic management and road user education. Walking/driving safely means we are being aware of traffic rules and laws. We should act before the situation becomes grave and we are left to contrite.
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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Speed limits on our roads and streets

“Breaking any law usually leads to unpleasant consequences but breaking a law related to speeding can lead to many consequences”Few days ago I saw a shattering news while reading newspaper that a child died after being hit by a car driven by a man who was driving very rashly at the speed of 80 km/h. Did I mention that he was driving in a street in residential area where a speed limit sign was also available? Shocked? even I was. I want to narrate a story that happened in front of my eyes. These three guys in their early twenties were riding a scooter on busy streets. They were at high speed (must be 60 something) and top of their Hooligan self when they crossed me. After a few seconds I watched them skid, fell down and surrounded by public. It took me roughly 2 minutes when I reached near them and saw that they skid because of sudden breaks they had to apply to save kids playing in the street. Yet they stopped only inches away from the kids. Now how safe is this?

What I can not understand is why people drive so fast crossing speed limit? Is it the excitement or impression of being good driver or fear of getting late to work (or to home). Whatever be the reason but the same reasons can put people in danger. So here primary concern is about the safety of the public including the driver from speed causing accidents. We all must understand that vehicles on the roads are allowed to run under a ceiling of speed limit.

However in India the idea and implementation of speed limit looks like an alienated concept. The authorized body has fixed maximum speed limits for different classes of vehicles at a national level like within town it is 50 km/h, for highways it is 80 km/h and there is no limit defined for expressways. The maximum speed limit for rural inner state is 90 Km/h. As speed vary by state and vehicle type so Delhi govt. has also fixed 60 km/h for light motor vehicles like cars/jeep/autorikhshaws etc. and 40 km/h for all heavy motor/transport vehicles including TSRs. According to ASP (Traffic) N S Ahlawat, the idea behind this is to ensure smooth flow of traffic and safety of the pedestrians. Not only this, to regulate the speed of motor vehicles on the roads of NCT of Delhi, Mr. Prabhakar (Deputy Commissioner of Police, Traffic Headquarters) been dictated speed limit of vehicles on the city roads. Know more about these speed limits here. There can be debates on whether these limits are right or not but before that we should abide by these limits.

Well Delhi Traffic Police (DTP) already is enforcing these limits by using cameras integrated with radar devices to snap the picture and license plate info and by putting Speed Limit Signs on the road sides. DTP is also in process of procuring night speed radar guns. These will help to catch motorists for speeding even after sunset, though the same is expected to be introduced only after Commonwealth Games in Delhi. One thing that I have found missing here is proper communication of these limits to the general public. How many of you knew about these limits prior to reading this post. The proper signage need to be put up not only the roads but on major streets as well. The drives for educating the public and enforcing law need to be taken up by the Delhi traffic police. We should not forget the streets when enforcing this law specifically because many such accidents happen on the streets. But above all enforcements we the drivers will have to understand and take the oath to drive sensibly. I would love to hear your input about this.
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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Paying My Traffic Chalan

They are right when they say "Nobody is perfect". Everybody makes his own share of mistakes and pays for his own share of penalties. Thus I also paid for mine. Last month while taking my son to the Hospital when I took a right turn from Aurobindo Marg, I was stopped by the traffic policeman. Seemingly I crossed the road the moment when traffic signal just turned Red. Though in my opinion I turned before it turned red but that is a different debate which I had with the constable there. My fate was not on my side as I also could not find the photo copy of my cars insurance policy though it was berried in the papers (you pay when you don't sort your papers). I was slapped with a 1100 Rs. penalty which I had to pay at Patiala House courts.
So this Saturday when I started for Patial House courts I was expecting some time to be wasted during the day. Guys do you wanna take any guess how much time I spent in this process? Well I came out of my parking lot and there I was in the jam at the traffic signal out side the parking lot. It took me 7 minutes to cross this signal and I reached the courts. What amazed me reaching there is that there is no Parking in the courts. On asking a Traffic inspector, outside the courts, about the Parking he told me "there is no parking. You will have to park along the roadside." So be it I found a vacant space and parked my car there (parallel to the footpath). I had to report to the Room No. 20 and this is where a pleasant experience started. My chalan receipt was taken and I was told to wait outside until they call my car number. My turn arrived very soon. The Magistrate (I don't remember his name) was a gentleman. He was patiently listening to what people had to tell. I was ordered to pay Rs. 100 as fine I paid and got my License back. So now if you still haven't guessed the time taken it took me total of 50 minutes right from starting to reaching home. Yes from home to home in 50 minutes flat which includes 7 minutes halt while going and 10 minutes while coming back at the signal right outside the parking lot.

I have written this post to quash out all sorts of images of haggling in the courts. If didn't felt a need to pay any tout to get things done fast and easily, you wont either. I have already told that how gentlemanly and patient was the magistrate. Best part is that the whole process didn't actually take more than 15 minutes. Guess India definitely is progressing towards a better governance system.
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Friday, August 13, 2010

No Honk Challenge

Last year in April I wrote a post "Horn Not Okay Please", where I No Honk Challengerecommended noise pollution level in Delhi is too high, so we should honk less often. Last week one of my ex-colleagues argued that it is practically impossible to drive in Delhi without honking. Though I suggested
to honk less and not go down to zero but this brought up the thought to test how practical is it to drive in Delhi without Honking at all. Thus I took a "No Honk" challenge.

No Honk challenge means I will be driving to my office (23 Km one way) and back without reaching to that big button in the middle of my steering wheel. This means braving the traffic intensive areas like Badarpur and Kalindi Kunj among others. Do you think it is possible? Some say not possible at all while some other believed it is very much possible. Kanwaria RushInitially I thought of trying it for one day but later decided to extend it for 1 week. So the challenge started on last Thursday and I'll have to admit that the challenge started with a honk as soon as I started my car (damn this honking habit). But believe me I didn't even look at the horn for even once for the entire day after that. The next day was a bigger challenge I was subjected to the construction related diversions and also Kanwaria (Holy road trip on foot by Lord Shiva devotees) rush. But things till now have gone smoothly. I have driven close to 350 Km and in all have pressed my horn only 5 times. This include 2 times when I honked in parking lot when this guy standing in driveway refused to move and once when I started 10 minutes late but wanted to reach office 10 minutes early (did you read my post "Sure way to avoid traffic on the roads is to start early"). Now I know you would be wondering how many times I reached office late. Any guesses? I reached late to my office in total of 0 times.

I know there are some morons who will just honk because of no rhyme or reason. Some even take responsibility to invent some kind of music out of the noise (read that honking). But for more reasonable ones, I did an analysis for reason which force us to honk. In this No honk drive for a week I was frustrated, on some occasions. Lets talk about that guy who was the reason behind 2 of my 5 honks. In the evening when I reached parking lot, this guy was attending a call on his cellphone standing right in the middle of the driveway totally unaware of the risk he took over his life. God bless such idiots. Same is the case when someone stops in the middle of road, may be coz they wanna count the stars in day light.

A common reason we delhiets face is when the vehicle in lane next to you, overtakes wrongly, switchesBus Tand on T-Junction lanes and jumbles whole lane in order to win the race with an unknown vehicle. Having this bad habit of driving so that they block 2 lanes (or as I say driving in Opportunity Lane) gives them an opportunity to swerve across multiple lanes. I have one more classical case to frustrate drivers. People using a T-Junction as the bus stop and buses obliging them. What you don't believe this? Just see the picture.

So next time when you complain about so much of noise pollution on the roads just be sure that you are not being the reason to add some more. Following are some points I suggest to help Delhi fight this noise pollution.

  • Be attentive when you are on the roads.
  • Do not swerve across multiple lanes.
  • Slow down and look for traffic before you merge in the road coming from a by-lane or street.
  • Start early to get less frustrated.
  • Don't be a speed monster behind the wheel.
I have lost the challenge but I have understood 1 thing how much unnecessary honking we all indulge in. But it would be unfair if I don't credit those guys who are considerate and genuinely honk less. My friend @hapharzd is one such guy who called me up and said how much he agrees with honking sensibly and he himself think twice before honking.

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Jaywalking on the rise in Delhi

First of all, I wanna say one thing that “If you know how to break a rule then you must know how not to break it too”. You all must have seen somewhere on the road, people usually cross the road at random locations other than a cross walk or cross the road when a traffic signal tells not to cross, this is commonly called “Jaywalking”. It’s unacceptable and pedestrians are supposed to cross the road/street/highway at the area which is designated for them but some pedestrian still prefer jaywalking, cross wherever they want and whenever they decide. The questions which are popped up in my mind that “Are they fool or too lazy to walk to the nearest crosswalk or don’t care what rules say and not even think of their life?” As it looks so stupid that you are driving and someone can see you driving towards him/her but still start crossing the road, that is really unacceptable. And with such attitude of pedestrians, driving is becoming difficult for motorists.

What they think? Jaywalking isn’t dangerous? Ofcourse it is, because motorists don’t expect jaywalkers to be crossing the road in the middle of the block. Jaywalking is putting pedestrians and motorists equally in danger. Jaywalking is not a criminal offense whereas hitting someone with your car/bike is.

In metro cities like Delhi where pedestrian traffic at it’s peak, jaywalking is commonly being seen everywhere as it appears to save time for you. But believe me it actually don't. And it looks, instead of car being a danger to pedestrians; pedestrians are now dangers to cars. Although DTP (Delhi Traffic Police) has enforced a rule under the section 28 of the Delhi Police Act, against all jaywalkers by which they will have to pay a fine from Rs. 20 to 100, still more than 900 pedestrians a year fail to make it to the others side and killed by the city drivers (as per DTP record). Delhi traffic police took up the “safe pedestrian week” drives twice in since last August. But have we learn something out of it? I seriously doubt. How many times we see the whole group of people jumping on the road in front of you when you are crossing a signal especially when you signal is green. I read somewhere that in UK it’s legal to cross all the roads except motorways, While there also it is suggested to “cross using a subway, a footbridge, an island, a zebra, pelican, toucan or puffin crossing, or where there is a crossing point controlled by a police officer, a school crossing patrol or a traffic warden”. In other countries like USA, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and others, jaywalking is commonly considered as infringing and the penalty is usually a fine and in Singapore the maximum penalty is 3 months in jail. Large hoardings are used with “Caution No Jay Walking USE CROSSWALK” symbol to educate the pedestrians.

Well there is a system called “Traffic lights”. These help pedestrians and motorists to let them know when and who has the right of the way. If any pedestrian fall down while on crosswalk, people would be there looking for them but if they do it while jaywalking, It would be difficult for a motorists to avoid an accident. Thus we as pedestrians also need to understand to respect motorist's right to use the road. People should use subways and foot over bridges. Always use the Zebra crossing at the signals/crosswalk. I my opinion the Authorities should take Pedestrian education drives more often. As much as I hate to say but section 28 of Delhi Police Act (against jaywalkers) needs to be enforced strictly for habitual violators.
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