We need to spread road safety awareness in India, specially in this state.
Road safety is a joke in Uttar Pradesh, specially when you are driving on highways. I travel quite frequently to UP as my hometown is there. Trust me when I say this, every time I drive down to UP, I see multiple fatal accidents on the highway. Not even once that I’ve gone and have not seen an accident.
I’m saying that it’s a joke because people laugh on you if you ask them to wear seatbelt/helmet, don’t drive on the wrong side, don’t jump signals, etc. Everyone has a herd mentality and when you ask why don’t you follow these traffic rules, they are like ‘arrey bhaiyya ye UP hai, yahaan koi nai pakadta’ (bro this is UP, you won’t get caught).
Imagine! These people are least concerned about their own safety, they just care about fines. They have no idea that these rules are made for their own safety. Lucknow is the only capital I’ve seen in India where there are no working traffic lights (maybe 2-3). They still follow manual hand signals by traffic police personnel even if the traffic light is working.
UP has the most dangerous highways I’ve ever seen. Forget the two lane divider-less state highways, even the state of the art 8-lane Yamuna Expressway is extremely dangerous. All these years I’ve got enough experience of how to deal with such dangerous driving on these highways.
Just to avoid traveling extra 2-3 kms, people drive on the wrong side of the road, in the fastest lane with their headlights on high beam! Yes, even on the new expressways you can see trucks, cars, tractors, 2-wheelers, bullock carts coming in the wrong direction and that too in the fast lane.
Can you imagine that chewing tobacco can cause a big accident? I’ve experienced the smallest details of such crazy driving in UP. Every second person you see in UP is chewing tobacco and painting the state red, spitting on every possible thing. Now while following a two-wheeler, suddenly you see them swerve to the next lane and come back. What are they doing? Spitting paan while they swerve so that it doesn’t come on them. Now these guys can be lefties or righties, you just need to be attentive and honk while you pass them.
Same thing happens with car drivers, they have no concept of aerodynamics, they can open the doors any time at any speed to spit and of course their car goes out of control. In UP, people assume that no one’s around if no vehicle is honking and they turn without using indicators, without looking in their mirrors (most of them are folded, aerodynamics? :P). That’s why everyone keeps their hand on the horn and without any reason people keep honking.
Another dangerous thing is people crossing the highways out of nowhere. I never keep my car in the rightmost lane. Any animal, living being, vehicle can jump out from the divider. Here I can blame the concept of growing unnecessary bushes on the divider. You can’t keep track of what’s coming from the other side.
Truck and bus drivers are another species adding to the chaos on the highways. These guys can’t drive for long hours without consuming alcohol. Have you ever seen traffic police in UP using breath analysers for truck and bus drivers? NO! Each one of them is high on alcohol while driving and every 20 minutes you can see a truck down the ditch or a bus toppled.
Over-speeding is also a big issue, specially on the new expressways. People go full throttle and push the limits of their cars seeing empty straights. They only slow down when they spot a camera. Then they come and tell me stories that we always slow down our car before interceptors but still get fined for over-speeding, why? These smart people don’t know that their speed gets calculated in time from one toll to another. They don’t care about their tyres too until they experience a tyre burst. Then they blame the builder for making concrete roads.
In winters the news of vehicle pileups is very common on these highways due to fog. Firstly, people should avoid driving in foggy conditions. Secondly, even if you are driving, you should always follow a vehicle visible in the front and maintain low enough speed that you can stop immediately in the visibility range. Drivers tend to speed blindfolded which leads to a pileup. Even if you stop without hitting the vehicle in the front, you can get crushed from behind. Low visibility is very dangerous and you have no control over others hitting your vehicle, you can’t do anything in a pileup. Even if you keep sitting you are unsafe and even if you get out of the car, you are extremely unsafe.
This is not related to accidents but this behaviour on UP highway toll booths is super annoying and very common. The long cues on the tolls, why? Because most of the people in UP think they are all VVIPs and they refuse to pay toll. They keep on showing fake IDs of high authorities and govt officials and what not. You must have heard of news about people killing toll booth attendants in UP to avoid paying toll. These intelligent people can shoot a Rs. 100 bullet but not pay Rs. 20 toll.
A total of 42,568 accidents were reported in Uttar Pradesh, out of which 22,256 have been fatal in 2018. These numbers are growing. In 2017, 20,124 fatalities were reported. We really need to educate ourselves when it comes to road safety. I do my bit every time I go there by explaining facts and giving examples, no matter how funny I sound to them but yes it makes a little difference. Most of you can’t imagine how challenging it is to drive on these roads. One needs to be extremely patient to keep such huge margin of safety while driving. People need to learn defensive driving in UP because driving safely doesn’t mean that you are safe, you need to be super alert and assess what’s happening around.