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Tamilnadu 32: A Road Safety Tour of the districts

An oft quoted data, when it comes to road safety in India, is that every hour, 17 people die on the country’s roads. That’s 408 people per day.

Yet most of us Indians drive in a most irresponsible fashion. Perhaps we believe that accidents are things that only happen to other people. Maybe that is why we are so indifferent to the daily news reports of road crashes. Unless several hundred people die in a crash or a particularly gruesome incident, we just shrug it off as a regular day.

The Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill and Third Party Insurance

Defraying risks has been a goal for humans ever since trading began, perhaps even as far back as the Early Bronze Age. The Code of Hammurabi speaks of traders insuring their goods in ancient Babylon. As trade and human civilizations grew more complex, so did insurance.[1] Today, you can insure almost anything.

Slow down!

In the rat race that is the urban lifestyle, we constantly have our foot on the accelerator, trying to get from point A to B in impossibly short times. Small gap in traffic opens in front of us and the instinct is to floor it and close the gap. God forbid someone else reacts quicker, sneaks in, and gets ahead of us! And then there are those situations when the intersection is several 100m ahead and the light turns green. Of course, we must hit 80 kmph and make the green because the world will come to an end if we miss the light.

Navigating the Roads

Roads in India are invariably geared towards a small group of users. The needs of people who are old, slow, differently-abled, etc are rarely considered by those who design roads and by those who use them. To mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (Dec 3) we spoke to 2 such people on problems faced in navigating Indian roads. 

A history of traffic signage

The other day, at the traffic lights, the “No U Turn” sign, with the red line slashed across the bent arrow, caught my eye. It occurred to me that these signs must be standard across the world. Otherwise, in addition to dealing with each country’s traffic idiosyncrasies, one would also have to learn and unlearn traffic signs. This got me wondering when this standardisation came about and what driving a vehicle must have been like before standards were set and implemented.