BANGALORE : Has anyone noticed how driving in Bangalore has gotten more annoying over the past couple of years? Now, don’t get me wrong. This is not the typical Bangalorean sneering at the 'outsiders'. Everyone surely agrees there are only three kinds of men who feel the need to drive fast: professional racers, ambulance drivers and the last kind that has its own special reasons. Placing these 'reasons' next to a mole hill would still make them look undersized.
You know the people I am talking about. The ones that drive right behind you, bumper to bumper, while keeping one finger firmly on the horn. They sneak up on your right and want to overtake you to make an immediate left turn. They think that the yellow light means go faster.
Look at the penalties levied on traffic offenders and it becomes clear why no one cares about traffic rules. The law seems to believe that people driving speeding vehicles are in a hurry, which is sweet of them, but we all know that isn't the reason. It's to do with pushing the limit, while gently breaking the law. I couldn’t drive a car till I was 21 – I was an inferior human being till that point – but even I understood the psychology of the accelerator pedal. If cars came with two speeds – 30kph or 90kph, and the only way to switch between them was by pushing an instant "break the speed limit" or “break the law” button, drivers might think twice about doing so. But that pedal, that incremental, giving pedal ... it almost encourages you to push your luck.
I feel we should implement more slow speed zones. So you'll hear more screeching brakes in future. Don't worry, eventually it'll blend unnoticed into the background of everyone in Bangalore, like birdsong or gunfire. The current situation, half the population drives at somewhere between 15 kph – 30 kph above the general speed limit. They do this because they think they can get away with it, seems like a fair compromise. If anyone really, really wants to drive faster than that, they could visit a test track, play Need for Speed, or simply risk it and swallow the consequences. It's useless in everyday life.
Unless you're delivering urgent donor organs, you don't need to reach your destination that quickly. And if you think you do, either set out earlier, or spend less time leaving your hazard lights on at the side of the street and shopping, using an ATM, sightseeing and doing whatever else you can think of while blocking traffic.
When I become minister for transport, I'll introduce a new motorway lane specifically designed for horse-drawn carts and bullock carts – a lane that crisscrosses all the other lanes at random intervals. I'd also position a teacher (who doesn’t mind using a cane) on every bridge – picture the teacher that you were terrified of, yes, him or her, and instruct them to cane anyone who looks like they're getting a bit speedy. Or anyone who looks like they're enjoying the road a bit too much for my liking. Or anyone listening to an album I hate. Or wearing a loud shirt. Or who might be Sagittarian. Don’t ask me why Sagittarians. I guess I am just drunk with power. Basically anyone. Anyone in a car or on a motorcycle. Or near a car or motorcycle. Or who looks like they're thinking about cars and motorcycles.
Hey, I'm just trying to offer solutions here. If you don't like it, you can speed away.
(Dheepak Jayakrishnan is an investment consultant currently based in Texas, USA)