Thursday, November 12, 2009

Size matters, but buses

Size matters, but buses

With over 35 lakh vehicles of all sizes and shapes plying on Bangalore’s roads, Bangalore Mirror asked regular road-users — a BMTC bus driver, an autorickshaw driver, a car owner and a motorcyclist — as to who the `Big Bully’ on the road is. Well, as expected, the replies only triggered a blame game with each person accusing the other for all the things that go wrong on the road Life and death Illogical traffic restrictions and vehicles refusing to give way make the city’s ambulance drivers’ lot a totally unenviable one BANGALORE MIRROR BUREAU
Bangalore Mirror spoke to ambulance drivers in the city to find out the problems they face in this respect.
All of them rued it is extremely difficult to bring patients to a hospital within the ‘golden hour’. Sometimes, even reaching the nearest hospital is not enough as the hospital may not have all the facilities and the patient has to be taken to a specialty hospital.
Those who drive their own cars do not give way for the ambulances most of the time. They play music at high volume and raise all the window panes of the car and just be in their own world— Santosh Kumar, a driver of the 108 ambulance.

Profile: Working for BMTC, won a silver medal for best
driving. Driving experience: 27 years
Driving a bus in the city is definitely no easy job these days. When I joined state transport corporation, there were hardly 700 buses. Now, there are more than 5,000 buses in the city. But what has compounded the problem for the city is the rapid increase in other vehicles and lack of road etiquette. The worst of the lot are cars and autorickshaw drivers. The car drivers are of two types in the city: those driving cabs for callcentres and those driving their private cars. While call-centre cabs drive recklessly, those in their own cars either drive at slow speeds right in the middle of the road or swerve to the sides as they wish. The common thread between them is both feel that they own the road.
If, by chance, the bus brushes against the car or an autorickshaw, it is always the `bigvehicle’s mistake’ syndrome that works and we are at the receiving end. This is more so in accidents involving twowheelers. Even the traffic police blame us.
The changing attitude of the drivers of smaller vehicles is a disturbing phenomenon. While BMTC drivers rarely honk, the car and two-wheeler owners use all kinds of shrill horns and keep honking even when the road is relatively less crowded. Another issue pertains to patience-level among road-users: Everyone wants to overtake buses and in the process ends up causing traffic snarls. For a trip we usually get 45 minutes, but due to heavy traffic jam on the roads, it takes us nearly 90 minutes to complete a trip. We spend nearly ten hours in traffic every day and the pressure on us is very high.

Profile: Head, Department of Biotechnology,
Government Science College.
Driving experience: 20 years
The most reckless in the traffic hierarchy are the yellow board cabs and autorickshaws. They drive without any traffic sense. They don't even keep one inch distance from the other cars and come dangerously close. Moreover what adds to the irritation is that they all seem to have this multiple horn which adds to the noise pollution. Maybe it’s their way of warning others to get out of their way and interestingly you are expected to make way for them because you are so scared that they might actually end up hitting you. I can understand that they may have time constraints but they should not put others’ lives at risk. Autorickshaws come a close second. Sometimes there is hardly enough space on the left side, but the autos just seem to squeeze themselves in. In fact, they don't even respect pedestrians who would be trying to cross the road.
Of course, BMTC buses will obviously feature in the list. They don't seem to care much about the rules; especially early in the morning when they drive recklessly.
Moreover, they don't even stop at the bus stops, they park either much before or after that. Sometimes they break the rule right in front of the cops, but still no action is taken.
Finally I would say that it all boils down to the citizens who are supposed to have some civic and traffic sense. When they try to break the signal then it’s okay, but when others emulate the same they get annoyed; this is hypocrisy. Obedience to traffic rules should be
inculcated among
all citizens.

Profile: A resident of Yeshwanthpur. Has his own auto. Driving experience: 15 years
Ihave been driving on the roads of Bangalore for the past 15 years now. A decade ago the traffic on the road was manageable and nobody had any p r o b l e m s . But then the two-wheelers kept on increasing. They have not only added to the traffic problems of the city but are often responsible for many accidents. They are the most reckless motorists on the road today; no sense of direction and always in a hurry. They overtake from the wrong side and have no knowledge about lane discipline. Even if
they find little space between vehicles, they try to squeeze in. If that isn't enough, they also keep honking at the traffic signals for no reason, even when the signal is red. Among college kids riding motorcycles, there is also the craze for speed racing. A recent incident has made me hate them even more. I was riding in
Malleshwaram 17th Cross and a two-wheeler rider came from the wrong side and bumped into my auto. He did not even stop and apologise. He just rode away. The dent is still there on my auto. They should be taken to task by the traffic police and dealt with more seriously.

Profile: Works for Toshiba.
Riding experience: 3 years
The major problem that I face while riding is from pedestrians especially in the fast lanes like the Inner and Outer Ring Roads. In these roads, everyone will be riding very fast and we also have to look out for jaywalkers. People jumping the medians without caring about the plying vehicles are another irritant. Moreover, there are no proper zebra lines at regular intervals. At least their presence will enable us to slow down. Presently, we have no option but to apply sudden brakes when forced to. And when we do so, our bikes skid and in turn we get injured.
One such incident occurred while I was commuting on Inner Ring Road and suddenly someone came in front of me. I was forced to apply brakes, and ended up skidding with my bike. Caught by surprise, a car which was following me at high speed rammed into my bike. Thankfully, nothing happened to me. One dangerous skid as this can be a cause for many problems.
This apart, the greatest fear of a two-wheeler rider is of the BMTC bus.

Suhas Gopinath
The 22-year-old CEO of Globals Inc.

Expert opinion Awareness is the key
Traffic management in Bangalore must use more technology and drivers should consider signals sacrosanct
Only a few signals use a ‘flash’ to note the number plate of the erring vehicle. Unfortunately, in Bangalore, such apparatus is used only on MG Road. However, I think this approach should be replicated eveywhere throughout the city at all busy traffic junctions. That way, an awareness will be created among people not to skip traffic lights because there is the fear factor of being noted through the system.
We have to start an awareness campaign such as the ones that have been carried out in Mumbai. To bring more awareness among people in Mumbai, people have set aside ‘days’ such as a ‘No Honk Day’.
I also think that we should speak to representatives of autorickshaw associations and try to tell them why they should believe in lane discipline and why they should respect rules. We can tell them that if you hit someone, it could be someone from your own family. There is so much lack of awareness among them
that I sometimes feel sorry for them.
At one traffic junction where the light was red,
in Bangalore, I was once talking to the driver of the vehicle I was in. He was honking continuously. When I asked him why he required to keep honking, he replied that honking that way would make drivers of vehicles before him move faster. I think that is some baseless logic.
The police has a role too. They could organise workshops and start initiatives for the BMTC drivers to bring about greater awareness about traffic and safety issues. Also, they must look at using technology in traffic management as has been done in places such as Singapore and Europe. For instance, why not look at installing cameras that will monitor traffic and note offenders? Also, updates and information should be made available on multiple media such as newspapers, and mobile phones. Radios have been used in Bangalore for trafic updates but that medium should be complemented with others as well. They can tell people how to get from point A to point B and if that route is congested, suggest an alternative.


Every day, on an average, I shift around five to six patients. The major problem is caused by the autorickshaw drivers. Even when the siren is on they don’t bother to give way. We have to adjust and go, that is the situation. Every month, one or two cases with severe injuries die on the way to the hospital
a driver with a private ambulance

The major problem that we face while bringing patients from accident spots is that in many places there are so many traffic restrictions. In many places we lose time because there is no free left or right turn. Even the ambulances are not excused
—R Linga Kumar, an ambulance driver with Sanjay Gandhi Institute of Trauma and Orthopaedics

Even in front of Nimhans if we are coming from Double Road we cannot take a right turn. We have to go till Dairy Circle and come back. In accident cases every minute is precious
—Shivanna, a driver with Sanjay Gandhi Institute of Trauma and Orthopaedics


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