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Be a good driver

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As you sit behind the wheel, you shoulder the huge responsibility of ensuring safety against all odds

Finally, you got the driving licence, realising a long-cherished dream. And it’s the beginning of tense days for us, as you take the vehicle out on your own.

As parents, we are responsible for moulding you as a good citizen, and good road behaviour is part of that discipline.

Driving is an enjoyable task — the reason you wanted us to send you to the driving school after an impatient wait to turn 18. But driving is a serious job that only a responsible person can do. As you sit behind the wheel, you shoulder the huge responsibility of ensuring safety against all odds — bad roads, reckless driving, road rage and so on. Nothing can be an excuse to play with the safety of those in your vehicle and others.

A road accident death may be just a small piece of news, but for the family of the dead, it is a story of untold miseries and trauma for long. Every accident has a “cause”, and invariably people talk about how it could have been averted with a little care. It all happens by a moment of carelessness or error of one person. That is the first lesson for a driver.

We may not able to correct the driving habits of another person. But we can discipline ourselves, learning from the mistakes of drivers who had caused accidents and pre-empting every possible cause. As a person who loves the road, it is your duty to do so.

To ensure safety, follow road rules to the letter and keep ego and a “me first” attitude away from the road.

The first part is simple. Learn road rules and keep the few basic life-saving rules to your heart always. Resolve now that you will never drive on the wrong side, even for a short distance. You will not park your vehicle on the roadside if there is no sufficient space left for pedestrians to move freely. You will not mind walking a few hundred metres to your destination, or when in the crowded city, taking an auto to the shop you want to go after leaving your vehicle in a parking space safe for other road users. You will never attend a phone while driving; nor stop your vehicle in an unsafe manner to attend a phone call, forcing other vehicles off their lanes or forcing pedestrians to walk precariously on the vehicle path. When you drive, when you stop, when you park, when you turn, when you open the door... your first concern will be the safety of others on the road.

Resolve now that road markings and road signs have to be obeyed. You will never jump the signal, cross the stop line at a pedestrian crossing, overtake or move through the wrong side, carry passengers or goods dangerously, and stop or turn abruptly without proper signal. You will use high beams only when there is no vehicle ahead or opposite. Your vehicle is always maintained well, and you will not drive if even a single lamp is defective.

Doing all these is easy, but the second part is not that. It will take a lot of conditioning to attain this — grooming your mind for the road. It is natural for a responsible citizen to get irritated when others violate safety norms and road rules with impunity. But realise that even getting irritated deters your

poise and can lead to an accident. To be a good driver, you will have to train yourself to compromise on everything for the safety of road users. You will have to essentially be with drivers who do not follow any discipline, who consider themselves to be smarter than the rest of us.

But take it from me, a good road culture will pay off and you will have the confidence that you will never cause an inconvenience to another road user or leave a chance for anyone to frown upon you for your road behaviour. You will never be caught for a violation. Most important, you are less likely to cause an accident, and that is your prime responsibility as long as you are on the driver’s seat.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 6:57:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/be-a-good-driver/article30544072.ece

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