Monday, July 9, 2007

Indian Road & Traffic : Some Observations

Some of my current observations regarding Indian Road/Traffic condition are listed below.

1. Some of the roads are one-way in morning and two-ways in afternoon.
2. Some of them are closed for contractions for months, which create massive chaos.
3. There are hardly any provisions of street lights in National highways; however huge toll fees are collected in many places. Highway should be of three lanes either way, but max it is of two lanes.
4. After the rain the pits and holes are often created in the big roads.
5. Sometime the drives in normal roads are compared to some fun rides, car damage and punctures are very usual things.
6. In the streets of city, there is hardly any lane concept; cars are choosing the virtual lanes randomly at their wishes.
7. Sometime traffic lights are not functioning; in most of the cases traffic signals are not present in major crossings.
8. Directions and information are almost not maintained; even the exits from city, the directions to airport/stations are not there which is absolutely solicited.
9. Very few flyovers compare to the demands.
10. The road conditions in the countryside are even worse, narrow and peach less.

And some facts.

1. Five out of seven recent deaths of IBM India employees caused due to road accidents.
2. On the way from Khragpur to Kolkata(130 km) on 03.07.2007, I have seen four massive accidents, where the vehicle lost control either because of rainy weather, or drove mistakenly.
3. It was a horrible experience for me as the visibility was very poor in night and the massive downpour or rain made it rather difficult to see what next after 5 meters. I was scared by the tempestuous wind above a semicircular bridge, where I almost couldn’t see the edges of the bridge. Fortunately I survived but the absences of street light always foster the probability of accidents.
4. However I reached Kolkata safely, I found it not safe for driving, not because of the reckless drivers, but for water bogged poor state of the roads after the rain, which looked like virtual canals.
5. Everyday in road accident at least few people dies in Kolkata, one of the recent victims is grand father of my friend, passed away couple of months back after being shoved by an small vehement auto riksa. Sahib Singh Verma, ex Delhi CM died in accident recently. Hundreds of accidents take place everyday across India, and thousands more survives luckily or by intuitions of the drivers.

The situations are really horrible. But is it really because of the deplorable road conditions? No. Here go some more observations.

1. Even though some roads have lane concepts (by white markers) people used to drive in the middle of it, to take the advantages of both lanes.
2. Every one is in rush in the city and not ready to leave space for anyone. “Blow Horn” if you want to pass someone in India, in contrary developed countries are minimizing the use of horn.
3. Traffic rules are not that strong in case of accidents and defaulters. Manipulations are encouraged by traffic police to violate rules. Poor qualities of materials are used for the road constructions, again the tenders/contracts system are under the vicious circle of corruption.
4. Process and rules are made to be broken, that’s the mentality of maximum public taxi/auto/truck drivers. They are not educated enough to follow the traffic rules. Even the common people cross the road anywhere they want.
5. Foremost there is lack of projection from state govts, which is clearly proved by the statistics that only 8% of the whole are roads in kolkata which is much much less than the standards.

So basically the problem is in out characters, attitudes. The infrastructure and facilities can not change the country unless the people change. The same person drives his car differently in Europe/US and in India. In fact I do the same sometime, because I am an Indian, a typical Indian!!

Visibility in daytime
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Raghu Ram Prasad said...

yes, really worsen .....the roads are very bad...you can not drive a vehicle in a small villages in INDIA....not properly maintened by the GOVERNMENT....

indicaspecies said...

Haha..why does the attitude change while in India? Good post. Am an Indian too but but while on holidays, I like to relax, look around as I travel, so avoid driving then.

As to rate of accidents, nothing can beat the records of this tiny place. Kuwait has one of the highest traffic accident rates per capita - it's a wonder I'm still alive!

Anonymous said...

oh my!! im glad u are survived!!
how very dangerous :O
yeah i agree with that point of education.
govt had better pay more school fee like SL.

Pijush said...

@Raghu, You are right, the roads in the countryside are horrible. We pay so much TAX and dont know where those money is utilized.

@Indicaspecies, I dont know why I change, probably because of the environment. When I come to India, I get relaxed. The society forms the attitude and environment, like in Bangladesh people used to immigrate, whereas in India people can handle IT jobs because we achieved that maturity. Thus a society and environment have a dependency on each other, which guide our actions.
When are you coming to India, how long.
I didnt know about Kuwait that highest traffic accident per capita, take care of yourself.

Yes I heaved a sigh of relief after that incident, but destiny is unavoidable, never matter where you are.
India is a bog country, SL is comparable as a State in India, so its hard to implement any drastic rule, but still I will blame Indian Govt.

Sigma said...

"closed for contractions" 8-) [obs. no. 2]

And to add some more to observations:
- In some cases, traffic signals get installed, but do not function. In some still fewer cases, siganls are installed, and work too, but only on two sides, leading to utter chaos.
- The road construction and digging go in cycles - roads will be tarred, then dug up by phone people, built again, dug up by electricity deptt, built again, dug up by sewage dept, and so on ....
- Whenever lights stop funcitoning at any significantly used juntion, it takes 10 minutes to conjure up a huge jam, which can take hours to dissolve.
- driving on the wrong side of the road is a fundamental side. If you are going on the correct side (i.e. left) of the divider, and encounter another vehicle from opposite direction, and you dont give him the way, he'll glare and honk like anything!
.... whew I can go on and on!!

Pijush said...

@Sigma, Correctly pointed out the loopholes. In addition "Speed Limit" has to be added in the list. All the Indian roads are "German Auto ban"(German highway with no speed limits), even if we have something mentioned, no tracking is done.

Last week one of our IBM managers has suffered an accident in highway, police came and asked for 20,000/- despite it was a fault of the truck.
Thousands of incidents happen everyday, still it is ok with us :-)

indicaspecies said...

Thanks for that update on change of attitude. You ought to be a sociologist too..haha
Here's a link giving some info on Kuwait:
It is a tiny country of 2.5 million people, out of which approx 1 million are the locals, and I believe has one of the highest traffic accident fatality rates in the world.
Thank you for your concern for my safety.
I will be in Delhi next week :D

http://driving-india.blogspot.com said...

Much of the world wide web is full of sarcasm & mocking of driving on Indian roads.

This site http://driving-india.blogspot.com/ has been created with the purpose of providing driver education and training rather than criticism.

At present I have produced and made available 17 driver education videos aimed at changing the driving culture on Indian roads are available. To watch the videos, please visit: http://driving-india.blogspot.com/

The videos cover the following topics:

Video 1: Covers the concept of Blind spots
Video 2: Introduces the principle of Mirrors, Signal and Manoeuvre
Video 3: At red lights, stop behind the stop line
Video 4: At red lights there are no free left turns
Video 5: The Zebra belongs to pedestrians
Video 6: Tyres and Tarmac (rather than bumper to bumper)
Video 7: Merging with the Main road
Video 8: Leaving The Main Road
Video 9: Never Cut Corners
Video 10: Show Courtesy on roads
Video 11: 5 Rules that help deal with Roundabouts
Video 12: Speed limits, stopping distances, tailgating & 2 seconds rule
Video 13: Lane discipline and overtaking
Video 14: Low beam or high beam?
Video 15: Parallel (reverse parking) made easy
Video 16: Give the cyclist the respect of a car
Video 17: Dealing with in-car condensation

Many thanks