OPINION

Sensibility in Senseless Traffic

June 14, 2010
Suresh Naig

All of us must have encountered impatient drivers, unruly drivers, rogue drivers and rash drivers on road, especially on the highways and seldom would have encountered ones with compassion and courtesy. Though one is tempted to attribute a life full of stress for the road rage, I believe it is more of an inculcated behavior than any extraneous factor for the traffic woes. We have come across drivers who are more adept in driving us nuts than a vehicle by their incessant honking; Some drivers whose hands are used to gesticulate “get lost” than any useful signs; yet another group of drivers using the roads as maze by not sticking to any particular lane; and the problem of impatient drivers is compounded by the frequent traffic snarls coupled with the enormous increase of vehicles on the road.

With the improvement of automobiles incorporating power steering, power brakes and a host of driver friendly improvisations it should have reduced the stress for a person behind the wheels. I fondly remember the camaraderie exhibited by public transport drivers on the winding hill roads to Ooty, when I frequented Ooty once a month on work in the 80’s. The Government owned CTC (Cheran Transport Corporation) buses were specially improvised for the grueling ride of 3 hours to Ooty from Coimbatore. The pneumatic braking of the buses was provided with an extra outlet for the compressed gas to escape, preventing brake shoes jamming while climbing down from the hills.

On the narrow winding roads one had to wait for the go ahead signal from the vehicle in front to overtake. After overtaking another slow moving vehicle, the bus driver thanks the driver of the slow vehicle by honking the horn twice “Tu Tu” (Thank You) and the driver from the vehicle left behind acknowledges by honking his horn once, “Tu” (OK). On the entire stretch of road, preference is given for the uphill traffic and downhill vehicles patiently wait, especially while negotiating a curve or hair-pin bends. Then again this “Tu Tu – Tu” exchange is enacted. The camaraderie was exhibited despite the fact that the vehicles were neither driver nor passenger friendly in the 80’s.

After a gap of around 25 years recently I climbed the hills of Ooty from Coimbatore, self driving my swanky sedan. My vehicle had transparent glasses on all windows devoid of sun films and it was easy for anyone to see the occupants. I was narrating my pleasant past experiences of bus travel on this sector to my wife – the only other occupant of the car, when I was nearing Burliar- the first point of climb. I had overtaken a bus and wanted to find whether the camaraderie existed; when I thanked the bus driver for having given me way by honking the horn twice “tu-Tu”, I could see the confused expression on the driver’s face in my mirror. I knew the reason for his confusion – he never expected a self driven swanky sedan owner with Karnataka registration number plate to know their friendly custom. However after a small pause he responded with a broad grin “Tu” (OK). My entire journey to Ooty was pleasant with “Tu-Tu” – “Tu” ritual.

A marketing professional, yet believes in talking only the truth. An optimistic maverick remains a puzzle, puzzling others.
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Sensibility in Senseless Traffic

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Author: Suresh Naig

 

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