With the recent launch of National Road Safety Week from January 1-7 by a welfare organisation, showbiz celebrities speak to DNA about road safety issues that they feel strongly about.
While I’m personally struggling against a tendency to use my mobile phone while driving, it’s not a habit that I would recommend to anyone. It is always advisable to pull up on the side if you do have to use your phone while driving. Or use the hands-free for the mobile though even that’s avoidable because its quite a distraction. And I suggest that people absolutely do not attempt to text on their mobile at all while driving because that’s the biggest distraction of all!
An issue that really bothers me is the lack of road etiquette in our cities and our country – it’s time we learn lane discipline instead of cutting into someone else’s lane or straddling two lanes. Also since the inner lane is meant for the fastest traffic, autos, three wheelers and slower modes of transport should respect that. And pedestrians on their part should mind the traffic signals and zebra crossings instead of dashing rampantly across the road.
It’s not as if people don’t know about not ‘drinking and driving’ or about not using mobile phones while driving. The laws and regulations to curb such behaviour, which is considered illegal now, are also in place. I just wish the law enforcers would take a stricter attitude on these particular issues, so that they could be reduced to a minimum. Most traffic policemen, seem interested only in fining those breaking traffic signals. People will listen to laws when they find that bribing a policeman won’t let them off the hook.
I would say that it’s vital to not ‘drink and drive’. We have no idea how terrible a car accident can be if somebody drives after drinking. It not only endangers our own lives but can cause damage to other people’s lives as well. We only have control over our bodies but we cannot have control over our cars after we consume alcohol. Plus you’re left with the guilt for life, should an accident occur.
There are many solutions to this in a city like Mumbai. Public transport — cabs, autos, trains — operate till late in the night if not all night. Plus there are ‘party drivers’ that can easily be hired specifically for the purpose of driving one home after a party that serves alcohol. If you don’t want to hire a driver then go out with a group of friends and the one who doesn’t drink can drive the rest back. Personally I don’t drink and I often play chauffeur to my friends. It is also up to women to find solutions for their brothers, fathers and husbands should the latter be drinking. The other thing is that it’s important to plan in advance how you’re going to be returning home after a drinks party – usually the day before or the morning of the party – rather than leaving planning for the last minute.
Road rage is one of the biggest problems especially with the growing urban traffic. While there may be external controls, ultimately the onus on avoiding road rage lies with the person in front of the steering wheel. One has to be mindful of the consequences. Road rage is a sign of the times — of an all time low in the tolerance threshold of people and of a somewhat callous attitude. Each person has to find their own way to control this destructive and volatile behaviour. For me, it’s my spiritual practice of Buddhism that keeps me in check even when the going gets difficult. I’m sure there are other ways — meditation, yoga etc – to control the inner tendency towards anger. Personally speaking I like to drive even if it means my driver is sitting by my side and it often becomes tough not to react when someone bumps your car. But I try to see it as something in which the damage has already been done and getting angry will only make it much worse.