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Old 11th February 2024, 13:03   #1
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Brutal year due to road-related incidents for me | Need for a national level road safety campaign

The last year or so (2023) has been absolutely brutal when it comes to road safety related incidents with myself and those near me. First time in my life I met with a serious accident that shook me to the core. Several other serious incidents with colleagues in my own office (at least two colleagues with 6 month absences and life altering operations), I think we are facing an epidemic related to traffic safety. The situation in my city is so bad that every time you leave your house (even on feet) you fear something might actually happen.

Incident 1. Driving on the outskirts of Jodhpur, we were turning into an alley. A motor cycle driver who was driving at a very high speed could not control and rammed into the back of my vehicle. My car got damaged (rear bumper needed a change etc) and he received minor injuries (which was lucky).

Incident 2. During the Diwali break we decided to go to MP. On Ahmedabad - Indore highway we were cruising at around 80-100 when a car from the opposite side of the highway decided to make a turn, realised I was coming and froze in the middle of the road. My previous near miss that I reported here was also on this highway and on that occasion I avoided hitting the vehicle by quickly steering away. This time I had no time or space. I hit the other car head on. I was in my Hexa and the other car was a Hyundai Aura. We did not receive any injuries except some whiplash as all were wearing belts. But the driver and passenger in the other car were not wearing seat belts. They had some head injuries but luckily nothing life threatening as I managed slam my brakes really hard. This shook me to the core as I just could not fathom how stupid can someone be and how easily they could have lost their lives if I hadn't managed to slam the brakes or if I was nearer to the turning. The other driver was apologetic and the police asked me if I wanted to press charges. I was advised by people not to do that so I let it go. My car had to be towed back and I had to make alternate arrangements to continue on the holiday.

When I pressed him into what he was thinking, his response was "Maine Socha Aage wali gaadi nikal Gai to meri bhi nikal jayegi! (I thought if the previous car could turn I could also do that)". He did this on a national highway without even looking if there was a vehicle coming from the opposite side. He was a teacher at a local school. This made me think that we need stricter driving tests and much wider awareness campaigns. Affordability and improvements in quality of life (which are great things) mean there are unprecedented number of drivers on the road now. Without proper training we will see far more of this.

Brutal year due to road-related incidents for me | Need for a national level road safety campaign-img_1182.jpg

Brutal year due to road-related incidents for me | Need for a national level road safety campaign-img_1180.jpg

Incidents 3 and 4. Two colleagues in my office met with accidents where they were hit by cars while they were on 2 wheelers. Both needed 6 months rest and several operations.

Incident 5. A relative in Jodhpur, while walking, was hit by an unmanned motorcycle and was left in coma. Two kids (not sure if they had a licence) were performing a stunt and lost control of their motorcycle, which then hit my relative, he received multiple injuries - to his head, several fractures in both feet and so on. The kids had jumped off and were quite ok barring minor injuries. It has been 3 months and he still can't walk. This will leave permanent effects on his quality of life. All this when he was actually walking!

There have been several high profile incidents in Ahmedabad involving deaths of multiple people and yet no awareness campaign or anything by the police here or at the national level. Just within 1km of where I live I have read about several pedestrian deaths in the newspaper in last 3 months or so.

These are not isolated incidents any more but a problem at an epidemic level. I have never felt unsafe like this ever before. I have been driving 28 years and have driven in at least 12 different countries! I hope that someone in the authority will do something to take action. We need several high profile campaigns about road safety to bring some sanity to the roads. Wonder if those having influence in Team-BHP can play role here?
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Old 11th February 2024, 14:02   #2
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re: Brutal year due to road-related incidents for me | Need for a national level road safety campaign

Absolutely agree with you that we need a revolution in raising awareness about safety on roads here in India.

I firmly believe that driving schools can and must play a significant role in that.

I have also often thought that school syllabus should include compulsory lessons on traffic rules and regulations.

I also believe that team-bhp is already playing a great role in raising awareness on road safety. Wish more and more people, especially youngsters would read the forum pages and contribute to make our roads safe.

Thank you very much for raising this important and necessary topic.
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Old 11th February 2024, 17:19   #3
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re: Brutal year due to road-related incidents for me | Need for a national level road safety campaign

I apologise up front, but we as nation have the gene of "resist any rule/authority" embedded into our DNA.

Unless there is visible and punitive damages inflicted on the careless/negligent road users (and that includes pedestrians), the attitude is "Can-I-get-away-with-it?".

Walk in almost any urban area of our nation for five minutes and we can see at least one (a) biker/rider with a kid up front; or (b) car driver with one hand cupping a phone.

So 'catching them early' in school is instantly negated on the way home. I have seen too many school buses with children, sometimes more than one, in the single seat up front, no seatbelts even for the school bus driver.

As Gadkari says, we neither fear nor respect rules of the road. We are NOT law-abiding citizens, we are danda-fearing road-users.

I gave up many moons ago and drive with the attitude: "This (any other driver/rider) plans on meeting me by accident (pun intended ), take preventive measures." Despite that, collided with a cattle carcass some months back on a highway; no humans injured but car was damaged.

Drive safe and sane.
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Old 11th February 2024, 22:00   #4
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Re: Brutal year due to road-related incidents for me | Need for a national level road safety campaig

While there are many road safety campaigns and Sadak Suraksha Abhiyan efforts in progress in various forms across the country, run by both the government authorities such as the traffic police, RTOs and MoRTH as well as multiple NGOs, the focus is never to take dangerous and untrained drivers off our roads, nor to investigate and pinpoint fault in case of crashes. Whether it be the unknown cars and motorcyclists or the Aura driver, none will lose their driving licences due to these incidents (one cannot really call these 'accidents' since all were avoidable), and will continue to endanger themselves and others.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bhargav_dave View Post
The other driver was apologetic and the police asked me if I wanted to press charges. I was advised by people not to do that so I let it go.
While you let it go to avoid great inconvenience to yourself, the police also let the Aura driver go without penalizing him or suspending his DL, even sending him for driver re-education (which does not exist in India anyway), despite the fact that he drove dangerously and was not wearing seat belts (both him and his passenger), and caused a crash. If the Aura driver or passenger had died, you would have been at the receiving end of legal and police harassment, without investigation regarding whose fault it was. In this scenario, the Aura driver will continue to drive in the same manner as before, despite any kind of road safety campaign anywhere.

In this situation, you need to do some soul-searching about whether you yourself could have done anything different to avert these accidents where you were involved, and choose to drive differently in future. The Team-BHP Road Safety section is a treasure trove of threads that talk about safe driving. If you have any dashcam or other video recording of the incidents, it may be possible to analyse where you could have driven more safely.
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Old 12th February 2024, 11:24   #5
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Re: Brutal year due to road-related incidents for me | Need for a national level road safety campaig

Stricter licensing rules and a yearly refresher course in road safety should be mandatory for everyone who drives/rides, yearly refresher should also include online training on exercising restraint and patience on roads, some accident videos should also be included as part of these programs so that every one realizes the possibility of life altering accidents.

I feel 90% of the accidents can be avoided if one is tolerant of other's faults, the culture is not going to change in a day, but will take hefty fines and regular re-training of all road users to acheive some improvements. Biggest deterrent is a hefty fine and points on the driving license that could lead to suspension, violaters driving and riding on wrong side of the road and DWI should straight away face suspension of driving privileges for 12 months at a minimum and significant increase in insurance costs (at least twice the regular premium)!

Road design is another major factor contributing to accidents, small improvements in the existing road infrastructure can significantly reduce accidents!

MORTH tried implementing hefty fines but only to be blocked by the state goverments, this attitude reflects the value of life of the citizens! I know what I have listed above is almost impossible to acheive in our country given the state of affairs in general, but one can only hope
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Old 12th February 2024, 12:20   #6
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Re: Brutal year due to road-related incidents for me | Need for a national level road safety campaig

Thanks for all your messages. There is a lot that needs to be done and the sheer magnitude of the problem at hand is enough to overwhelm authorities to a point where they just don't know where to begin and hence don't.

I for one don't know the answers to the problems. Most of the points raised above are quite correct and provide different perspectives. I too agree that the inaction by myself after both incidents leads to such behaviour going unpunished and roads remaining unsafe. But as both incidents were several hours away from home and with full family in the car and given the current scenario of how police handle complaints, I didn't see it fit to go ahead.

I have never felt the need for dash cams until now but now I feel they are a must.

However, one thing still remains a fact that at least those who know how to tackle this at the policy level and know how to handle masses (this goes in the same direction as Swacchata Abhiyan) must take action. I'm willing to pay some kind of "cess" if it means that we will have safer roads for us or at least our future generations.
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Old 12th February 2024, 12:22   #7
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Re: Brutal year due to road-related incidents for me | Need for a national level road safety campaig

One way to reduce accidents is to impose a hefty increase in third party insurance if the owner/driver of a vehicle involved in an accident is found at fault; this find should be compounded for subsequent accidents. This method is successfully adopted in various parts of the world. Once people are aware of the increase in premium and someone who actually has to pay it due to their fault will be a lot more careful while driving.

Simultaneously, the insurance of the offending vehicle must pay for repairs to the other vehicle/s (this is part of our MV Act under Motor Claims Tribunal - alas this tribunal has cases pending for > 15 years and for most people it is a waste of time pursuing this route). The Motor Claims Tribunal needs to become efficient and attribute the fault within 5 days of the occurrence of the accident.

The only way we will improve our traffic sense is with the stick policy
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Old 12th February 2024, 12:49   #8
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Re: Brutal year due to road-related incidents for me | Need for a national level road safety campaig

I have a different idea. In addition to safety awareness campaigns / textbook lessons / refresher courses, I think we also need to educate people on the skill of patience! .

Most of us are always in a hurry! And it's a common trap. What seems like a shortcut or time-saving strategy can end up being counterproductive, sooner or later.

I'll illustrate this with couple of examples that I see commonly on our roads:
  1. A 2-wheeler or autorickshaw waiting on the side of a road to pass through that illegal makeshift gap in the median rather than taking a u-turn just a few meters ahead. More often than not, I see those poor souls still awaiting that opportunity while I have completed my u-turn and carry on with my ride.
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  2. A car entering a one-way road from wrong direction rather than taking a proper route that is longer, causing inconvenience to all other traffic moving in correct direction. Again, I see those cars at the point where road converges, meaning they took almost the same time to traverse the smaller distance plus the hassle of navigating through the oncoming traffic and endless honking!
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Patience is crucial, especially when driving. Rushing on the road can lead to accidents or other dangerous situations. Being patient while driving allows for better decision making, anticipation of potential hazards and overall safer travel for everyone on the road.
And this is just one virtue of having patience. Life would be different and better if we practice patience in all day-to-day activities.
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Old 12th February 2024, 14:10   #9
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Re: Brutal year due to road-related incidents for me | Need for a national level road safety campaig

Quote:
Originally Posted by bhargav_dave View Post
...We need several high profile campaigns about road safety to bring some sanity to the roads. ..
I've mentioned this before, and I'm saying it once again. The awareness should start from the time a person applies for the driving licence. Right now in India, majority of the RTO's are very very leniant and favorable in issuing Driving Liscenses. Thats where the problem starts.

This needs to stop. Make licencing strict. Issue licence only if the person properly knows how to handle the vehicle. Make sure during the learners course, they know all about safe driving. Possibly, also while re-application after 15 years be very strict and have detailed exams on road safety.
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Old 12th February 2024, 14:41   #10
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Re: Brutal year due to road-related incidents for me | Need for a national level road safety campaig

Quote:
Originally Posted by bhargav_dave View Post
...
These are not isolated incidents any more but a problem at an epidemic level. I have never felt unsafe like this ever before. I have been driving 28 years and have driven in at least 12 different countries! I hope that someone in the authority will do something to take action. We need several high profile campaigns about road safety to bring some sanity to the roads. Wonder if those having influence in Team-BHP can play role here?
Kudos to you for accepting that we have a problem rather than blaming bad times, bad omen or karma or whatever comfortable solace denial can give. To be honest, I don't foresee any solution from the outside. We are a nation of a billion people who are ingrained in cutting corners, jumping signals, breaking minor laws, accepting that bribery is the only way etc,etc,etc. The reason is also simple. With such a population explosion, it is always survival of the fittest or the most adaptable one. Add opportunistic politicians to the mix and we have a cocktail of apathy and zero accountability. This is the truth.
The only way forward is what we can afford to be financially. Idiots in the road are not going to change. Better to buy safe vehicles, use seat belts even in rear seats, use branded helmets and protective gear etc. and while walking or using public places like malls, theatres etc, have situational awareness.
OT,I am an electrical contractor and trust me when I say that most of the public places are built to a cost and there is only perceived safety, not real safety. Proper earthing which is mandatory for safety and discharge of leakage is only there on paper. Earthing has to be maintained every year which no malls or cine complexes or even housing societies do. I always educate my family about presuming that all metal parts might have electrical leaks which can be fatal, not touching any poles, not walking into puddles et al. Call me paranoid, but in a country of a billion people the govt is not going to be bothered about one less and the only people who will need me is my family and I owe it to them to be safe. Sorry if it sounds more like a rant.
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Old 12th February 2024, 15:26   #11
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Re: Brutal year due to road-related incidents for me | Need for a national level road safety campaig

The only way this will get cleaned up is when we get autonomous cars that will talk to each other and keep us all safe, till then we are all literally riding our luck.

The Governments have the intention to solve the problem but even for them its not possible

One thing I think that is surely missing in our society is 'civic sense'. In school we used to have these subjects, History, Geography and Civics. Civics was where we learnt it is noble to give way, drive in such a way that you are not inconveniencing others etc. Today, nobody cares for the other while driving, its if I have it my way I win attitude and its very attractive to the ego to always go for 'victory'

Some rules which have kept me safe are
- While walking I always walk in the opposite direction to traffic
- When a two wheeler appears without mirrors, I am expecting that two wheeler to make stupid manoeuvres
- The oncoming traffic tells you a lot about what is happening behind you on the road, learn to read the oncoming traffic
- Never ever ever take your eyes off the road, its like cricket, you take your eyes off the ball you drop the catch
- I've had to lose money because I keep thinking of others things while driving and my mind gets pre-occupied. That's what I am working on now
- I use two wheelers for extremely short commutes only
- Don't assume that if someone has the indicators on they are going to turn
- Look both ways even before you cross a one way street

Stay safe guys
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Old 12th February 2024, 18:10   #12
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Re: Brutal year due to road-related incidents for me | Need for a national level road safety campaig

Kids are taught in school on not breaking signals / not to drive in the wrong direction on a one-way street, but when educated folks break the law they are teaching kids that it is okay to break the law.

The law states that one should not drive a geared vehicle before the age of 18 and yet on this very forum I have seen so many instances of members proudly claiming that they learnt driving at a young age but in a safe environment.

If we as an educated community dont follow rules what can be expected of others.

Said that, periodic refresher courses should be made mandatory for drivers as well as guys implementing the law.
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Old 13th February 2024, 08:24   #13
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Re: Brutal year due to road-related incidents for me | Need for a national level road safety campaig

I said it previously on the forum and I say it again, more than half the people in India who hold a driver's license are not fit to be drivers and are a threat to themselves and others on the road.

In North India especially, all my friends that I have ever known, got their license sitting at home from an agent who bribed the RTO.

They usually learn driving just before or after buying their 1st car.
I have also heard of examples (1st hand from the guys mouth) of not even bothering to learn from a Jugaad school and learnt by just winging it. He remembers (almost nostalgically) of how he didn't know how to turn on the headlamps and drove on a highway without any lights..

Because of these jugaad training (after getting license) they try to learn the operation of the vehicle in the shortest period of time and then that's it, baaam..they are driving on the road the moment they get the "hang" of it. Who has time to learn ruuuuulezzzz....

I couldn't find an emoji where I could show me want to break a wall with my colleague 's head.
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Old 13th February 2024, 10:20   #14
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Re: Brutal year due to road-related incidents for me | Need for a national level road safety campaig

My thoughts:

Though many factors are influencing, the most important factor to consider here is Driverís behavior (Human error). Many are not aware of the great responsibility in driving, they were totally ignorant of the consequences.

Awareness is the promising way forward, some school level initiatives to be taken to inculcate the culture of safe driving from the grassroots level.
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Old 13th February 2024, 13:39   #15
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Re: Brutal year due to road-related incidents for me | Need for a national level road safety campaig

Thanks all for your contributions. Once again many diverse views. A few thoughts based on some suggestions and my own experience:

1. Having taken driving lessons (after having driven for several years in India) in the UK, the written test in 2003 already encompasses simulated hazard training. For example, how do you react if you see a child's toy/ball being thrown on the road etc. We probably need something similar (maybe we already have it I don't know about the latest situation).
2. Extremely strict driving licence rules. I knew several people in the UK who had taken the driving test at least 15-20 times and yet couldn't clear. There was one lady in my office who passed at the age of 55! We need something similar, quite urgently.
3. Extensive civic and driving sense lessons both in urban and rural areas. The situation in rural areas when it comes to such incidents is even worse than urban areas. The I met with the accident, I was told by the locals that this spot is known for such incidents and they witness at least one of not more on a single day!
4. Which leads me to the next point of traffic design. OP (Mylife Mycar) mentioned this as well, we need better designs in junctions and roads. This is an adjacent area of my study and I have several friends who work on traffic design and road design in the UK/USA etc. This is an extremely responsible and involved field and needs utmost priority. The way our roads are designed also lead to much frustration and encourages bad behaviour.
5. Campaigns. Very high profile campaigns where billions are spent and well known film makers are involved (think big cinema names from all over the country) and films that involve interviews with those who lost their dear and near ones. Maybe documentaries. I don't know but something is desperately needed.

As we speak, last night another accident happened at one of the hotspots right next to my home (this place has seen 4 deaths including 2 pedestrians in last 2 months) last night. A car jumped on a curb and perhaps another casualty.
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