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Old 2nd March 2009, 15:33   #1
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Default Driving Fundas (An anthropological study of traffic behaviour)

Hi guys,

Crossroads without signals are really interesting in terms of collective coordination (thousands of people, rickshaws, coolies, buses, etc. have to find their way through without collision). No signals means lot of adjustements, adaptations between vehicules and negotiations. As part of a bigger research project on driving manners, I am studying these kinds of complex traffic situations and i am trying to build a software to simulate it

Here is a link to a few videos I have shot of Mumbai crossroads if u are patient to go through this

Artmap
and then click on trafic (4th icon on the right side)

(you have to scrolldown a little bit to reach the videos and it takes a little time to show up, I guess, but it is worth seeing ! And sorry for the language on the Artmap site, it is in french !)

I would be glad to share the progress of this project with you and open a debate on driving fundaas

First question is : how do you handle crossroads without signals ? Do you apply any strategy ? and do you think driving has anything to do with strategy ?

Second question is : "Pahale Pahale Aap" is a line I have heard many times here

I would like to know if anyone has already heard about this principle ? What does it mean for you ? What's your point of view about it ?
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Old 3rd March 2009, 02:13   #2
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Hi Traffico,

An anthropologist studying the traffic behaviours in India - how interesting!

I took a good look through your blog (all the videos - since im not a francophone). Cool stuff.

Your post reminded me of a simulation i watched years ago. It was about a large mass of people entering a train. (Can't remember if it was in an indian context or not).

Basically there were virtually 3 "lines" (if you could call em that) of people. The one in the middle - trying to go straight in to the door, and the other two coming in on either side of the middle line, at about 45-degrees.

The simulation showed that the lines on the side move in much faster than the group coming straight in.

Anyway, here are two famous youtube videos about indian traffic that you have probably seen before :





This one is pretty crazy :




Quote:
"Pahale Pahale Aap"
"Pehle App" (you first) ? Ive NEVER heard that one on the roads in India.

I do have my own views on traffic and dealing with it (probably very different from the general views of the masses), but i will share those another time as it is already late.

Do keep us updated!
cya
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Old 3rd March 2009, 16:22   #3
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Default Suburban trains behaviour

Thanks for your creative input Rehaan ! I am glad to be part of this forum to have this kind of reactions. I knew the first video but not the second one and I am very much interested in the train simulation, if u find it... The rules you follow to manage in the suburban trains in Mumbai are another enigma. That could be a good subject for a thread, because I suppose people have their own strategies to deal with it and if you are not familiar or experienced, it takes quite some time to find your way through to get on the train first and then the right timing to get down. I have shot a few videos inside the train, I have broken my camera a few times and it is difficult to understand anything on the basis of these videos (you can imagine). I am still looking for the right method. If there are a few more reactions on that topics, i propose to open a new thread on suburban trains behaviours.
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Old 4th March 2009, 06:01   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by traffico View Post
....I am very much interested in the train simulation, if u find it...
Unfortunately, i don't think i'll have much luck finding it.
I saw it 10-15 years ago, probably on TV (discovery channel?) and i dont even remember which country the simulation was done for/in.


Quote:
Originally Posted by traffico View Post
....The rules you follow to manage in the suburban trains in Mumbai are another enigma. That could be a good subject for a thread, because I suppose people have their own strategies to deal with it and if you are not familiar or experienced, it takes quite some time to find your way through to get on the train first and then the right timing to get down....
Also the fact that its sometimes easier to get off the train and then get on once again, rather than to try and hold your ground if it isn't your station as yet!


However, my general summary of Indian behaviour in crowded situations/traffic etc is that its moreso on a micro-processing level than a macro-processing.

Many small and simple decisions seem to be made every time its necessary, and at a very fast clock-speed / frequency.

The larger picture is never considered, unlike some other countries (or should i say "cultures"?) where rules are laid out (the larger picture) and followed quite strictly - requiring much fewer active-decisions and at a much slower clock-speed/frequency. Maybe this also explains why most foreigners have a very hard time driving in india.

Goodnight,
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Old 4th March 2009, 08:22   #5
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Rehaan that's a good point you make, I have observed the same too. Here there are a lot more interactions which don't have any particular direction, almost like brownian motion and the thing is if one keeps looking for any overall behaviour, it's simply not there or chaotic at best. But this doesn't mean there is chaos at the level of individual interaction but more awareness instead, of the general flow of things around.

No wonder for one not from India, living here is going to be an exhausting, exciting joyride!!

Last edited by zaks : 4th March 2009 at 08:26.
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Old 4th March 2009, 15:24   #6
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oh, i so much agree Rehaan with you regarding your microlevel argument and the fact you are compelled to be in a more active position, and that's why i find this forum interesting, active drivers have also very active thoughts.... It is usually very hard to make interviews of people on their driving style in Europe and to make them express what happens in their head while they are driving. In Mumbai, I had not such a problem while i was conducting interviews. I also drive here and I love it. And when I come back to France, i have the bad feeling that we have become robots, very peculiar about rules, speed limits, etc. Driving is not fun anymore.... But, it seems to me when i am driving here that all the microadjustements we have to make are not so tiring in the sense that they happen quite naturally. When I took some driving lessons here, the teacher used to tell me to go very slowly in the middle of the road without taking care of the disturbance i could create for others because the others would anyway adapt their trajectory. I would have never imagined that in Paris. And Zaks, i like your idea of the brownian movement, but i would be glad if u could precise what you mean when you say "interactions without particular direction", dont you think any movement is directed towards a goal (even deviated) ? Or maybe it is just several movements having different directions at the same time ?
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Old 5th March 2009, 20:46   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by traffico View Post
And Zaks, i like your idea of the brownian movement, but i would be glad if u could precise what you mean when you say "interactions without particular direction", dont you think any movement is directed towards a goal (even deviated) ? Or maybe it is just several movements having different directions at the same time ?
when I said brownian motion it is in the context of how each individual's interaction is oriented to the other. But a collection of individual paths is not totally random due to the constraint posed by the availability of routes to his destination.
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Old 6th March 2009, 01:33   #8
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Haha, brownian motion! Thats a great way to describe it.

I thought of a few parallels (marbles rolling down a rocky slope vs fish swimming in a school? lol) but as you see, they really weren't worth mentioning.

I guess another way to describe indian road traffic or human traffic behaviour is : Micro-logic, macro-chaos!

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Old 6th March 2009, 02:43   #9
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Default lateral traffic

ah ah ah, I see some interesting concepts here ! The impression of brownian movement might be also due to the fact that a great deal of the drivers effort consist in looking for lateral space and gaps on his sides to progress ? That's what surprised me when i drove for the first time : so many things happen on your sides. So it is a very "lateral" oriented kind of traffic. Rickshaws are really adapted to it with their vehicles opened on both sides.
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Old 6th March 2009, 07:56   #10
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Hehe, Brownian movement!
The problem seems to be that Indian roads are free-for-all zones. You are totally spoilt for choices.
Dr. Luke Rhinehart (The Dice Man) would have made zero headway as he would have been perpetually occupied casting his dice to pick an option out of all the available choices! Thank God he never had to be on Indian roads!
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Old 6th March 2009, 08:13   #11
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India is a country of simplicity. Unlike west where there is a 20 page rulebook on what to do and what not to do at a signal free crossroad, as well as other places, in India we keep it simple. There is just one check
Is the other vehicle bigger than mine?
If yes, they have right of way, if no I have right of way

The power of simplicity.
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Old 6th March 2009, 08:16   #12
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Hi Team,
Guys what i believe is, that there is just one rule for driving a car in India, " The bigger the Vehicle the lesser the pain".
The truck drivers in the country are least bothered and scared at all while driving on high speeds(it could be a state highway or a small link road) , as they know that we, the small car drivers love our cars and would be extra careful while driving on the same road.

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Old 6th March 2009, 08:19   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by traffico View Post
ah ah ah, I see some interesting concepts here ! The impression of brownian movement might be also due to the fact that a great deal of the drivers effort consist in looking for lateral space and gaps on his sides to progress ? That's what surprised me when i drove for the first time : so many things happen on your sides. So it is a very "lateral" oriented kind of traffic. Rickshaws are really adapted to it with their vehicles opened on both sides.
traffico, this is correct. But there is a simpler explanation for all this-
Here the vehicles are driven like they are walking around; just imagine how a crowd coming out of cinema would go about, very similar to that. There is no road sense among our people and lane discipline is foreign to us contrary to that followed in other countries. We think of it as getting from here to there through any available route so we dodge, cut across, reverse do almost everything as though we are walking around some obstacles.
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Old 6th March 2009, 15:33   #14
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Default another road sense

Ah ah, I like the Dice Man image ("Dr. Luke Rhinehart (The Dice Man) would have made zero headway as he would have been perpetually occupied casting his dice to pick an option out of all the available choices!"). If driving is little like playing dice, imagine many people playing dice together and having to adapt to other's choices... The fun with the Dice Man was that he was alone playing dice and that people around him were not aware of his excentricity.

I also agree with the rulebook argument ("Unlike west where there is a 20 page rulebook on what to do and what not to do at a signal free crossroad, as well as other places, in India we keep it simple. There is just one check Is the other vehicle bigger than mine?"). It's also true that there are more informal rules and micro-adjustements being made while you are driving than in the West and that's a way to keep things simple for every body. Maybe a thread on "driving fundas" will finally reveal the fine choices and informal rules we follow ! But I am not sure you follow the same principles if you are a rickshaw, a bus, a car, a haathgari or a pedestrian. And when you say "there is jut one check, is the other vehicle bigger than mine", it doesn't mean you dont have a choice, you can consider that it gives you the right to go first but you can consider the reverse as well. I have noticed many times in the markets zones especially that the haathgaris would pass through a crossroads without even watching, as if they knew that the other drivers will adapt to their behaviour. Maybe it is because they follow another rule : it is as if the one who makes the most effort had the right to make less adaptations. That's also the case for buses and trucks. Maybe it is what Garry meant when he wrote : "the bigger the vehicle the lesser the pain" ? But I am quite doubtful about the idea that only one rule is prevailing.

And Zaks, when you say
"Here the vehicles are driven like they are walking around", you made a point and it seems to me that slow speed is the only way to make many people and kinds of vehicles share the same space, including with pedestrians. If you increase the speed at certain crossroads, many microadjustements between vehicles would not be possible. But is it a reason to conclude that "There is no road sense among our people" ? Certainly not.... You said it well : "We think of it as getting from here to there through any available route so we dodge, cut across, reverse do almost everything as though we are walking around some obstacles", isn't it a good example of a "road sense" ? And do you think it would be possible to have so many vehicles and forms of vehicles at different speeds coexisting on a road following lanes ? You would need 19 different lanes on each road, including one for rickshaws, one for haathgaris, another one for bullock carts, for bicycles, etc., it is not the simplest solution...
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Old 6th March 2009, 15:54   #15
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If there was peaceful existance, I would agree with your argument traffico that it is a good example of "road sense".
But when you look at the statistics about how many people die each year on the roads, it means that somewhere the microadjustment is not working right.
So you do need rules, unless everybody here has sixth sense.
Unfortunately, the traffic police, and concerned authorities do not think so. They try rule enforcement in such a way that revenue generation is there. For example they will never prosecute a rickshaw puller for driving the wrong way, because there is no revenue there, nor will they prosecute the overloaded truck etc., because he has already paid the requisite bribes.
Many dangerous practices are ignored by these guardians of the traffic rules, because there is no money in them, yet if you are caught 1kmph above the speed limit, be prepared to pay maximum fine. Point to note however is that the said radar speed detectors have a posted error of 5%
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