Driving in India is not for the faint hearted. We keep talking about how great this nation is, how grand our past was. But what we do not have the courage to discuss about is the horrible way Indians drive – does not matter the type of road, type of vehicle, age of the driver or any other parameter.
Take one look at this link India road length. India has over 4 million KMs of road. But not a single KM of road that you can look at and feel proud about we drive. Not a single KM.
So, how do we solve this indiscipline? Law enforcement is of course the key. Here are the common things our cops and administrators think when it comes to making our roads safer:
- Helmet compulsory for 2 wheeler drivers
- Seat belts compulsory for 4 wheel drivers
- Registration papers, drivers license
- Speed breakers, road barricades
- 1-ways, replacing traffic signals with “signal free” u-turns
Sadly, none of these steps are do any good simply because we are trying to handle the effect of bad driving, not stop bad driving.
Lane indiscipline problem
I sincerely feel we can bring discipline back on India roads. There could be many ways of doing it. Below is one suggestion that helps in ensuring drivers stick to their lanes. A major cause of accidents on highways and city roads is random way in which people drive. If something can be done to force the drivers not to behave like drunkards on road, we will achieve a major milestone. A solution can be implemented on certain types of road so that drivers get used to being disciplined.
Solution – Rumble strips
Rumble strips are used across the world and even in India when there is a need to warn or slow down drivers by making the vehicle to vibrate/shake. You will commonly see them in India when approaching toll booths on our highways. These are very common across the world and used for a variety of purposes. More information is available at Rumble Strip Wiki
We can use Rumble Strips differently – put them in the middle of lanes so that drivers are forced to position their vehicles such that wheels are on either side of the rumble strip. This forces them to stay in lane. Any random movement across lanes will make the vehicle vibrate and is uncomfortable both for driver and the passengers. Imagine your wife/kids/friends yelling at you since the ride has just become turbulent.
Rumble strips – Making them work for India
Here is a solution that targets some of the wider roads in our country. Like sections of National Highways, Ring Roads within cities or any road that has 3 lanes on each side.
Above image gives 3 views of a road.
The first one is how our roads are today. Vehicles randomly spread across all parts of the road and moving to any part of the road with absolute impunity.
Second part of the image depicts how to strategically placement of Rumble Strips in 2 lanes. These are spaced out in such a way that drivers are troubled enough not to change lanes unnecessarily. Left most lane is free from Rumble Strips since it will be used by 2-wheelers and 3-wheelers.
Third part of the image shows how traffic will get streamlined due to the placement of these Rumble Strips.
Like any other initiative in public space, this one also will have its challenges in implementation. Below are some questions with few possible solutions.
Well, there could be 100 other ideas to improve lane discipline on Indian road. What is required is an intention to implement at least one of those. Lawlessness of any society is directly reflected in the way its people behave on roads. Lets make a start, however small it might be. But the start has to be in the right direction. Not simply putting up some speed breaker on a road prone to accidents.