I wonder what makes a gentle considerate person the devil incarnate when he is behind a machine. He behaves as if he is the lord of all that he surveys and any mortal on his way is treated with the contempt that person deserves. Consideration, politeness and sympathy are alien words not in his dictionary.
The other day, I found a big, powerful motorcycle headed my way though I was walking on the edge of the road in the absence of a walkable pavement. The motorcyclist slowed down a bit but took his machine through the narrow space between the kerbside and the road hump. I asked him whether he should use only that space, on the wrong side, when he is supposed to drive on the left, slow down and negotiate the hump. “Yes, that is the space we will use,” replied that hefty man in unison with an equally hefty pillion-rider. I dared not argue further. So much for consideration and politeness!
The bigger the machine, the bigger the importance of the man behind the wheel. Take the example of our own city bus drivers. Anything on their way is a nuisance to be negotiated anyhow as they are always in a tearing hurry to reach their destination. They are known to intimidate other drivers with incessant horn and even nudging the other vehicles in a clear indication they mean business when it comes to demonstrating who is the master of the roads. People do not argue with such drivers who in general have the sympathy of the scores of passengers inside. “Might is right,” the jungle law, is very much practised on our roads.
Those who have visited advanced countries recall nostalgically the consideration shown by drivers to co-vehicle drivers and pedestrians. Honking is taboo, except as a means of greeting or in dire emergencies.
No one overtakes on the wrong side. Immediately after overtaking, the vehicle comes back to the left or right side of the road so that other vehicles could overtake if they so desire. If a driver were in trouble due to his machine, those behind them would stop and render all possible assistance. I wonder whether we will ever learn some of those eminent guidelines for good behaviour on the roads or continue to be acting like maniacs in a tearing hurry. When we talk so much about globalisation, why can't we learn some of the good practices of the advanced countries where safety, orderliness and discipline are ingrained in the citizens, come what may?
(The writer's email id is: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Keywords: speed driving