Sunday, November 22, 2009

Taken over by Overtaking

Driving on Indian roads is nothing short of a penance...but only for those who carry the burden of road safety on their shoulders. For the rest, it's a reckless voyage of narcissistic aggression.

The worst form of this incurable hostility comes in the form of overtaking a vehicle at any cost, as if your very life depended on it. The desperation hardly needs a reason, it's more to do with the predatory instinct of ruling the world. And once you're bitten by this bug, you have no friend, no colleague, no associate and no acquaintance.

And contrary to popular opinion, truck drivers alone are not the only exponents of this malpractice. Our so-called decent city-dwellers abuse the law in equal measure.

A case in point is the situation when you are being ovetaken from the left.

Let's first look at what the law states :

a) The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle.

b) Except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted, the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle on audible signal and shall not increase the speed of his vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.

Now imagine you are speeding on the right side of the road...you slow down in anticipation of the traffic some distance ahead. Pat comes a car from your left, speeding to glory, in a desperate attempt to overtake you... for the sake of overtaking.

Road safety in this case solely depends on the maganimity of the driver forced to implement "b" to mitigate the risk caused by the driver abusing "a" - and how does the driver abuse "a" - by first brushing past your car and then unabashedly claiming the right side, forcing the driver behind to slow down his vehicle to accomodate the VIP ahead.

And the gestures that follow when cautioned by the driver behind are best left unsaid. Mind you, they will throw caution to the winds but you can't even throw an admonishing glance at them.

The root cause of this desperation can't be identified, it can only be traced to the psyche of a person.

Watching a vehicle safely speeding ahead, dexterously making way through the maze of traffic, can prove annoying for some - the pent up anger explodes at boiling point untill one is fully consumed by rage - finally charging from the left in the insane attempt to leave you behind.

Little does one realize what's one leaving behind - a glimpse of
the predator masquerading as a preacher. And many bitter memories!

PS: That many such nightmares have helped me design a Defensive Driving course for motor training schools is the only good part of the whole experience.

Dear Pradyuman

We know you now keep vigil from up above. We know you have had to take matters in your own hands, going by the sorry state of affairs down ...