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Responsible Drivers, Safer Roads

Remember to RESPECT your fellow roadsters, the road, your car, your life and the lives of others. Park only where you are supposed to, not in the middle of a busy lane

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Monday morning rush is a good example of how people drive on the roads. As someone who has travelled across the globe, nothing seems more chaotic and noisier than traffic on the streets of Delhi and Gurgaon.

There is so much development going on, so many roads are being constructed and so many streets are being beautified. But none of this serves any purpose if the people on the roads do not take care of their own lives and the lives of others.

Roads are meant to shorten distances and make travel easy and smooth. Transport is meant to reach destinations faster and in a safe manner. But in reality, roads have become crash zones where many innocent lives are lost. There are many reasons for this, I can give many examples why things are so chaotic on the roads. People waste so much time only because they either ignore – or just simply do not know – traffic rules. Most likely people know and ignore.

The Delhi Traffic Police launched a Road Safety Cell very early in 1972 to raise safety awareness among road users. Since then, it has introduced several initiatives to reach out to different target groups such as commercial vehicle drivers, school kids, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, autorickshaw drivers and government vehicle drivers. This cell has organised programmes in schools, conducted road safety marches, held street plays, distributed brochures and carried out several competitions. It has conducted lectures from time to time, held film shows on road safety and even held annual road exhibitions at Pragati Maidan.

But somewhere, not all these efforts seem to translate to safety on the roads. People still speed, people sill honk relentlessly, people still break traffic rules and people still crash into others and people still lose lives.

So perhaps not all accidents are caused by lack of road safety awareness. Stricter driving license laws would make a big difference. If driving training is made stricter, and if licenses are not issued unless a driver is very clear about traffic rules and regulations – then, I am sure, the roads will have far more responsible drivers, other drivers would save a lot of time, energy and on top of all – it would be far more save on the roads!

Issuance of driving licenses should also take into account road behaviour. Proper driving training should include lessons on how to be responsible, careful, completely knowledgeable about traffic rules and how to predict traffic movement. The driver should be given a license only if he or she has fulfilled the following criteria:

• Is able to control the vehicle in difficult traffic situations.
• Is able to assess and handle dangerous situations and prevent accidents.
• Knows the side effects of making driving mistakes and is self-aware.
• Knows, understands and can apply all traffic rules correctly.
• Is willing to behave well and cooperate with others on the roads.
• Knows and understands the value of life, health, the environment and public property.
• Has at least basic knowledge of first aid.

Driving licenses should be issued only after testing on different kinds of terrain, depending on where the driver will be most using the roads – rough rural roads, highways, metro roads and nighttime driving. Permanent licenses should be given only on after probation of either 12 or 18 months like in countries like Germany where the probation period is 2 years. Any mistake during these two yeas means a fine of 2500 euros or no license for a lifetime. The probation period should be to test if a person is a responsible driver. If a person needs more time, the probation period can be extended. Any incident during this probationary period should automatically make the person not eligible for a license. Also, there should be zero tolerance for any drunk driving or driving under the influence (DUI) instances.

If every driving license holder is completely aware of her or his responsibility on the roads, the number of crashes will come down considerably. More responsible drivers mean safer roads.
Here are a few things you can do. To be safe on the roads, just remember PAUSE – Patience, Awareness, Understanding, Safety and Equality.

1. Have patience. The traffic will move. There is no need to HONK and cause noise pollution at traffic lights or unless absolutely necessary, no need to jump lanes, no need to jump signals and no need to make mindless U-turns in the middle of the road.

2. Be aware of your surroundings. Look at what is in front of you, to your sides and behind you. If you are an aware and conscious driver, you will be safe and so will others.

3. Be understanding and considerate of your co-travelers on the road. Everyone is trying to reach some destination. Have a clear understanding of traffic rules and follow those diligently.

4. Safety should be your PRIORITY on the roads. Stay safe for yourself and your family and make sure you keep others on the road around you safe, too. Life is important, and you do not have the right to take it.

5. Remember everyone on the road is an equal – bikers, car drivers, bus drivers, cyclists, pedestrians – every single person on the road. So no one should think that he or she owns the road and the traffic and go about breaking rules and overtaking without a thought. No four wheelers should think that it is OK to run down a cyclist or pedestrian or compete with a biker. Similarly, no two wheelers should assume they can just cut across lanes and overtake and squeeze through traffic stops. Cyclists should not think that traffic rules are not meant for them. Lastly, pedestrians should not think that roads are parked where they can run out at full speed from the lanes or wave their hands to stop traffic or just walk slowly along the zebras even after the signal has turned green for the vehicles.

Remember to RESPECT your fellow roadsters, the road, your car, your life and the lives of others. Park only where you are supposed to, not in the middle of a busy lane. Stick to your lane. Do not honk too much. Use indicators to overtake, even during the day. Stay calm and be grateful that you are alive and so are others around you on the road. Happy days on the roads!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Jasmin Waldmann, International Life Coach

Jasmin Waldmann is an International Life Coach and the MD of JWLCC. She offers private sessions, seminars and workshops, as well as speeches. Jasmin Waldmann is an author of the upcoming book "Change ME!"

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