Out on the road, when you are behind the wheel, you are responsible for your own and the safety of other road users. For a country like ours, the latter is of even more important as our roads are full of jaywalkers, rash drivers and what not. So you might be great with the basic skills required to drive a car, but are you someone who knows how to drive a car responsibly? Here’s a list of 10 things which will help you to verify.
Traffic Light Behaviour
There are many who treat the stop line at a traffic light like it’s some meaningless paint. Ditto for the Zebra crossing beyond it. Thankfully, most cities have cameras now which capture those who cross the line when the light is still Red. Then there are those who swerve from the left to the right and vice-versa at the very last minute and disrupt the flow of traffic. Often, these are the same drivers who create a parallel, two-lane queue, even when there’s just one lane demarcated for turning left or right.
Besides this behaviour, there are also those who are colourblind when behind the wheel and pay no heed to what colour the traffic light glows in. Regardless of traffic lights though, have you ever stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross in peace? If yes, pat yourself. If no, try doing it once and do it with a smile. And lastly, DO NOT HONK AT VEHICLES AHEAD WHEN THE LIGHT IS STILL RED! In fact, DO NOT HONK AT ALL! Nobody is stationary just for kicks.
This one’s really simple, yet, so difficult for so many to understand. Within the city, stick to the centre lane when travelling straight. When you wish to take an upcoming turn, indicate and switch well in advance and not at the last minute. To make quick progress, do not swerve across the breadth of the road and cut traffic like you are a bee. You are not.
The same is true when you are driving on a multi-lane highway. The rightmost lane is for overtaking and the centre lane is what you come back to once done. The lane on the extreme left is for heavy vehicles and the buffer area to its left, also called the ‘Shoulder’, is not a VIP lane. It is not even a Lane. If you ever try overtaking a vehicle in the leftmost lane, from the left, there could be a stranded vehicle in your blind spot and then you can kiss goodbye to your life on earth. Along with you, a few stranded innocent souls might have to do that too.
Do not consider two-wheeler riders as non-existent and push them in a corner. If stuck in a gridlock where the traffic lights aren’t functional for some reason, do not add to your own and others’ woes by galloping an inch at a time, cms away from the vehicle ahead. Do not engage in posturing to display aggression for the right of way. Think of being a part of the solution and not the problem.
On single carriageways, wave back if a truck or bus driver makes way for you to pass. These guys are seasoned and know about your presence. They reward your patience if you quietly stick behind at a safe distance. Honk incessantly or flash those lights like you’re sending a Morse code and they will make sure your life becomes difficult.
Your Own House In Order
Are your car’s taillights and stop lights working? Do you make sure you keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead in case there’s a sudden braking situation? If you have to, do you check your mirror and brake accordingly so that the vehicle behind you isn’t staring at stationary metal all of a sudden?
Are your vehicle and its components in road-worthy condition? It could happen that one of the headlights isn’t functional and you look like a bike to oncoming traffic. Do not throw cigarette buds, wrappers or water bottles and other such debris out of the window of a moving car. Besides the dirt that you create, one of these things could become a potential hazard for the biker riding right behind.
Monkey See, Monkey Do
How often do you see this one car assuming leadership and escaping from the queue to break out on the other side of the road, in way of oncoming traffic, to get ahead? The Braveheart is then joined by others, many of whom follow, while some wish to be leaders too and hog another lane on the wrong side. What follows then is chaos, where traffic just doesn’t move in any direction. When the weather condition is adverse, some road users will take big and unnecessary risks. Do not follow the path of such drivers unless you know what you’re doing and are confident about it.
Giving Way To Emergency Services
Always give way to an Ambulance, a fire engine, and other emergency services. If you are stuck in a jam and the siren has been wailing behind you, take the first opportunity to make way for the vehicle. If you have another driver in the car, get out and help to clear the path if nobody pays heed. Do not follow the Ambulance or the Fire engine, thinking it’s a disguised vehicle which arrived there to clear the traffic for you.
Stopping To Help
If you see another stranded road user or someone who has been through an accident and requires urgent assistance, don’t hesitate to help. It could be you on the other side on an unfortunate day. Having said that, be careful and use your wisdom before you offer a lift to strangers.
Road Rash Is A Video Game
Is one stare from another driver all that it takes to instigate you? Try Yoga or best, cold water for instant Buddha. If someone cuts you off, overtakes incorrectly, or has been trying to instigate so that it can be decided who has bigger marbles, do not indulge them. Chasing them just to tap at their window and give them a piece of your mind won’t change anything. You will only be risking your own and the life of your occupants if you follow an idiot like an idiot, just to teach him a lesson. If you erred for some reason though, apologise and stay calm.
Also Read: What Is A High-Security Registration Plate?
Dipping It Down
At some point or the other, we have wished for lights which could pierce straight through the windscreen and then the eyes of the oncoming vehicle’s driver, who just cannot be courteous and use the dipper. Well, there’s not much you can do in such instances, other than not looking into the oncoming headlights and looking at the shoulder of the road instead. But since you know how it feels, be the one who dims it first when you spot approaching traffic in the dark and ensure you’ve got a picture of the road ahead before you’ve done that. This will help you in case the person on the other side is another inconsiderate idiot.
Also Read: How Do Self-Driving Cars Work?
Be a Gentleman / Woman
If you’ve accidentally caused a side mirror kiss, bumped into another car, or if there’s been any incident, settle the issue peacefully. Do not create a mile-long queue behind by stopping your car in the middle of the road to fight. Step aside for other road users to continue and take your discussion to a parking area if the cars are still driveable. If not, ask for assistance to push the vehicle to the shoulder and let others’ journey continue. Be cordial if stopped by the authorities and co-operate.