In 2016, over 1.5 lakh people lost their lives in accidents on India’s roads. The appalling and frankly shameful statistic makes India’s roads the most unsafe in the world. In light of this fact, we’ve compiled a list of unsafe (but easy-to-fix) habits India’s drivers are guilty of.
1. Not wearing seatbelts
A car’s safety systems can do little for you in the event of an impact, if you aren’t belted up. So, if you aren’t in the habit of doing so already, don’t drive off till you and your passengers are wearing your seat belts. Even those seated at the back must belt up.
2. Not using child seats
Seating your child in your lap when behind the wheel or even holding your child in your arms when seated in a car is making your child and yourself vulnerable to serious injury in the event of an impact. Invest in a child seat from a reputed manufacturer to keep your most precious cargo safe.
3. Talking on phone/texting while driving
Talking/texting on your mobile phone while driving diverts your attention from the task at hand and can have catastrophic consequences. If you must be in touch on the go, make use of your car’s Bluetooth telephone functionality. Better still, stop at a safe place and make that call or send that text.
4. Not following traffic signals
Our adherence to traffic signals is abysmally low, and the result of this lack of discipline is for all to see. Our roads are absolutely chaotic. Skipping that light may save you a minute but also makes you susceptible to an accident with a fellow road user. Be patient and wait for your turn.
5. Bad lane discipline
The lack of lane discipline on Indian roads stems from improper training and lackadaisical testing before issuing a driver’s license. Do your bit by using the right-most lane while overtaking and keeping to your lane on corners and twisty roads. Cutting corners is passable on a racetrack but is patently unsafe on public roads.
6. Driving on the wrong side of the road
Impatience can cause wise people to do foolish things. Driving on the wrong side of the road in the hope of saving time, skipping a traffic light or avoiding toll, is one of those foolish things. Just don’t. You are endangering your life as well as that of everyone else on the road.
7. Not using the mirrors
Cars with their external mirrors folded are not hard to come by on Indian roads. Mirrors take the guesswork out of lane-changing manoeuvres and give a quick reference point for your vehicle’s position with regards to the traffic. Use them frequently.
8. Following a vehicle too closely
Tailgating is a common sight on Indian roads. Following a vehicle too close gives you lesser time to react to a panic lane change or braking situation. Keep a 2sec gap with the vehicle in front and you’ll have enough time and room for an evasive manoeuvre, if needed.
9. Unnecessary use of high beam
If you’ve been blinded by the headlights of an oncoming vehicle, you’ll know what we’re talking about. Many motorists use high beam as the default setting for their vehicle’s headlights, effectively reducing the visibility for oncoming motorists. Be considerate and use high beam judiciously.
10. Improper use of hazard lights
Hazard lights are meant to indicate a breakdown. However, a dangerous trend on Indian roads is to use hazard lights on the go inside tunnels. This improper use of hazard lights is misleading and incorrectly communicates the status of the vehicle. If you do find yourself in a low visibility scenario, make use of your vehicles headlights rather than hazard lights.
11. Driving when tired
Long hours behind the wheel catch up with us in the form of fatigue, and being drowsy is not what you’d want to be on the road. So if you feel you could do with a break, take one. Get fresh and only head back onto the road when you are completely tuned into the happenings around.
12. Driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs
In case you don’t already know, drinking and driving just don’t mix. Intoxicants slow down your responses and impair judgement, making you absolutely dangerous behind the wheel. Be sensible and book yourself a cab home or handover driving duties to someone sober when you intend to drink.
13. Losing your cool
Being cut off by a larger vehicle or being stuck in traffic can be infuriating. But it’s in your interest to maintain your calm in situations like these. Getting angry throws rational judgement out of the window, and that’s just simply not the state of mind you want to be in when behind the wheel or handlebar.
Do you agree with our list? Are there other unsafe road habits you want to tell us about? Let us know in the comments section below.