Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Road Rage - A Social Crime?

Driving on Indian roads – Hell or Heaven? I am sure a lot of study and research effort has gone into this in the western but I doubt if many of us would understand what it is. I find this very strange – in western countries, if you happen to have an eye contact with a stranger, mostly he/she will smile, say a hello, good day, etc. Imagine what happens at a similar instance in India? You stare, he stares, you stare back and he stares back & so on. There is no smile – there is no wish – there is no friendliness. A huge ego inside each of us prevents us from giving that smile. And if you are just out of your gym or with friends whom you consider macho, you might end up starting a fight with a stranger – his only issue with you is he happened to have a direct eye contact with you.

If you are male & your eye contacted with a female – no need to say. Instant Love! Immediately the same ego that went on to fight with a male now blossoms in the form of soft love for a female and you turn to your friends to say about your heroics with that girl – that you made her look at you, you smiled/winked at her and she didn’t react or made a huge issue out of it. And that means she is okay with you! - Without realizing how you just managed to scare the s… out of an innocent girl with your ugly stare.

Coming back to road rage, I believe this instant hatred on strangers that is so entrenched inside us is the root cause for our behavior at roads. And definitely in Indian Roads, Size does matter! A pedestrian has to fear a cyclist, a cyclist has to fear a motor-cyclist, a motor-cyclist fears a car & so on. As far as Chennai goes, there are four cadres of people who never care for anybody else – Auto Rickshaws, the fish carts, Metro water tanker trucks and the government buses. They literally rule the city roads.

Just today morning, while I was driving, I noted down some of our qualities on the road:

-- Drive like you're walking. If you see space, feel free to drive on it, be it the divider, the curb, or anything/anyone.
-- Ignore all mirrors. Drive on impulse. Look forward at all times.
-- Drive as if you were the only one on the road, until you realize that the other vehicle is two inches away from you.
-- Use the horn liberally. It adds to the atmosphere of the road, especially in traffic jams.
-- It is OK to tailgate, cut people off, or otherwise give them a heart attack by driving precariously close to them.
-- Eat while driving. Drink while driving. Read while driving. Talk on your mobile while driving. Do anything while driving. It's all good.
-- Remember, signals are for wimps. Feel free to swerve across 3 lanes without signaling across heavy traffic.
-- It's the survival of the quickest. Whoever hogs the road space wins!

And we get angry when we come across a person who does not follow the above rules. And so how do we deal with it? The answer is ‘Road Rage’

Road rage is an emotional demon that haunts the roads, particularly in cities & highways. A person in a highly emotional state may become aggravated by the actions of another driver -- resulting in a sick, twisted attempt at revenge which much too often steps outside both laws of reason and laws of legislature. This is road rage.

Most Common Symptoms
The first and choicest weapon in a road rager’s arsenal that I managed to notice is the act of tailgating -- Our enraged driver will move himself closer to his victim, generally to within a few feet. This is often employed when the victim is going too slow for the rager, who would as a general rule of thumb prefer a speed more on the order of "too god damn fast".

Road ragers also tend to swerve a lot, not being terribly concerned with picking a spot in their lane and sticking with it. They also like to yell at you out the window if at all possible, and hit their horns a lot. These last two become extremely popular with them in traffic jams, at which time they believe that the person immediately in front of them is responsible for the entire ordeal.

Then how to protect yourself? I cannot get a real answer. The question is about survival and for that you need to be one among them. If you try to prove that you are not one among them, then be prepared to face the wrath of them. Then who will change the nation?

The Future

Our children grow up watching us commit the same mistakes. And I don’t think we are showing them how to behave in public. Most of us don't use the dust bins, spit at our will, use electrical transformers to unload ourselves without any public sensitivity.. and you can add atleast 50 items to this list at one go. Pundits say we are 50 years behind some of the western countries, and we will never bridge this 50 years in the recent future.

Japan happens to be what it is today because of their social discipline I would say. Their children are brought up in the same environment and am sure they will surge ahead. We lack that discipline. We do not respect our society, our children, our elders. We abuse nature. Everything has an egoistic, selfish & sadistic background. We will not leave back our children a beautiful place to live on!

God save India…

1 comment:

s said...

If you get into a road rage incident, never 'respond' to the other person. Take a video, and post it on the Internet! That way we can all have a laugh, and the idiot will probably get fired from his job sometime in future.