Traffic is a multi-pronged term in the Indian context. What is usual traffic (read cars and two wheelers) in other countries is usually spread to cover several classes and categories of mechanical and living counterparts alike. We all know that there are some things that are quintessentially Indian. Similarly, there are some traffic disruptors and hazards that are inherently Indian and we are hopelessly proud of the same. While these unique elements do have laughable attributes, they are traffic cloggers, disruptors and sometimes even major safety hazards in their own right. Until and unless roads and major thoroughfares are reclaimed for proper traffic only (read two and four wheelers), there can be no proper solution to some of these dilemmas. Some other elements are the result of lax and horrendously poor infrastructure and authority level lapses that can turn serious in seconds.
Tractors are some of the worst menaces especially when they slide up unannounced on major thoroughfares and main roads. Not only do they pose serious scratch risks for other cars and two wheelers, they disrupt smooth traffic movement with their sheer size alone. If a tractor is fully loaded and moving slowly, that is another nightmare you definitely don’t want to be stuck with. These safety hazards and traffic disruptors are better off where they belong, i.e. the fields.
2. Bullock carts
Bullock carts are another agricultural and rural vestige that India has still not been able to shake off on its roads. These carts disrupt and slow down traffic and there are always safety hazards if you’ve got two ill tempered cows shaking their heads vigorously beside your car! There are a hundred risky situations that can arise as a result of such bovine transportation systems.
The biggest problem created by push-carts and vendors is that they slow down traffic considerably which is a bane during rush hour. Being stuck behind one is certainly a frustrating experience and the propensity of several owners to push through nicks and corners when cars are stuck in traffic can cause scratching and marks of the worst kind.
Potholes are some of the biggest challenges facing motorists and the pride of Indian roads and the maintenance and civic authorities who ensure that one or two keep popping up unhindered. While the underlying damages to cars who cannot steer clear of potholes is definitely as painful as it gets, there is no end to accidents resulting from potholes.
Trying to swerve around potholes in a road full of cars? You get the picture. Accidents also result from potholes at night if motorists do not notice them on time. Several serious accidents and even deaths resulting from lack of control have occurred due to potholes. Yet it seems our authorities are a bunch of masochists and that’s how they want us to be too!
5. Cows (again!)
Cows are certainly aware of the political backing they enjoy in India. Which is why you often see them on major roads, blocking and slowing down traffic along with creating tons of risky situations for motorists. Bovine interference is definitely one of the biggest killjoys on Indian roads. Enough said (we don’t want to be mooing out our woes behind bars). Whole herds will get you cancelling that important meeting and saying your prayers in 10-20-40-10 mode (we’re referring to car speeds).
6. Unscientific speed-breakers
We’re a land of power and authority and this often manifests itself on roads in the form of speed-breakers. When it comes to the scientific reasons behind the same and curbing over speeding, they do have a nice point. However, unscientific placement of speed-breakers is often a serious cause of accidents and mishaps, particularly in congested traffic.
Heights of speed-breakers are way above recommended norms and they are unscientifically constructed and placed, resulting in accidents. Two wheeler drivers are the worst affected by these silent killers (it seems only a Prakash Jha/Madhur Bhandarkar movie can amend things). Many speed-breakers are versatile enough to contribute towards water stagnation in the rainy season and subsequent road damage.
“Heavy vehicles keep left” – Ya right! If only truck drivers could read these signboards and obey the rules, life would be so beautiful. Multi-lane highways invariably have heavily loaded trucks on every lane trying to race with each other, but one at 10kmph and the other at 10.5 kmph. These ultra slow speed overtaking process could take a few minutes, with cars behind them being hapless spectators. Moreover, there have been countless accidents due to parked trucks in wrong lanes. However, it seems the police and traffic authorities have not woken up from their century old slumber either.
8. Overloaded trucks & goods vehicles
Trucks and other goods vehicles give their bovine counterparts stiff competition in the accident and risk department. More often than not, you’ll find an overloaded goods vehicle or truck passing by on major roads and thoroughfares. The sight, while reminiscent of a certain architectural wonder, is one of the biggest hazards.
Too many trucks have suddenly capsized on account of overloading, thereby damaging other vehicles in the vicinity along with killing and injuring motorists. In many cases, trucks have lost control and rammed into other vehicles, commuters, establishments and buildings. There are also risks of goods falling off the truck onto passing vehicles or two wheelers which can cause deaths, injuries and serious road mishaps. However, this is another problem often overlooked by the traffic police and highway authorities (oh didn’t we mention that they’re still sleeping?).
Driving in India is definitely the toughest Iron Man challenge of them all. With traffic and safety hazards like these, who can blame our motorists for thinking the world of themselves. We simply hope that Governments and authorities shake off their prolonged stupor to combat issues like these that can take lives and add to India’s frighteningly high road accident and death tally.
Here’s hoping you have a safe drive!