Poor road safety? It’s about lacking motoring skills & psychology

Motorists as well as a number of experts choose to blame the first factor for the lack of road safety.
Representative Image
Representative ImageExpress Illustration

There is a deadly combination of three factors at play in Namma Bengaluru as far as road safety is concerned.

The factor that is most often blamed is poor roads. It involves poor design, poor quality of roads (even lack of footpaths) and apathetic approach towards road maintenance which allows open potholes and unattended dugouts making motorists vulnerable to them.

The second is poor driving skills. This is a much ignored factor, as is evident from the fact that this segment is able to clear their driving licence tests at the regional transport offices (RTOs) with ease. They are the ones who end up on the roads in control of machines while posing a threat to other motorists and pedestrians — besides to themselves.

The third factor is psychological, which makes the motorist develop a poor attitude towards driving and towards other motorists and pedestrians despite good motoring skills.

All these three factors contribute to motorists violating traffic rules and laws, and what you have is a large number of motorists compromising road safety, making life all that more dangerous to live, whether you are on a bike, inside a car or just walking on the road — or even on a footpath that does not exist.

Motorists as well as a number of experts choose to blame the first factor for the lack of road safety. Poor driving skills and psychological factors are mostly not considered, but they are the ones that are most crucial in making our roads unsafe, even if the quality of roads are extremely poor and lack proper infrastructure.

That poor infrastructure cannot be blamed for every ill about road safety in Bengaluru is clearly evident from the motorists’ behaviour not on Bengaluru roads, but on the Bengaluru-Mysuru access-controlled highway, which may have its faults, but is a well-laid road.

The New Indian Express on May 31 reported that over 100 traffic violations were recorded every hour on this highway segment. In the 28 days until May 31, a total of 74,915 traffic violations were captured by 22 cameras installed on both sides of the 118-km stretch. The highest number of violations were by drivers and co-passengers not wearing seat belts (57,057 cases), followed by 10,945 cases of over-speeding, 6,046 cases of lane violations, and 494 cases for using mobile phones while driving — all compromising road safety.

This is purely linked to motorist behaviour, nothing to do with any infrastructure inadequacies that one tends to put the blame on for poor road safety.

Even on congested Bengaluru roads, you will see motorists trying to zip their way ahead of all others, road rage over being overtaken, or over-speeding even on roads that are narrow with pedestrians trying to navigate a footpath-less road. We have a ready recipe for disasters on Bengaluru roads, whether you are driving, riding or just plain walking. That’s road safety for you in Bengaluru.

In their zeal to be the first to reach their destinations, motorists fail to understand the basic fact — that if you stay in line, you could reach faster than trying to overtake and cause traffic congestion, and make life hell for all. Bengalureans are all too familiar with the latter scenario.

A close analysis of the three factors mentioned as reasons for Bengaluru’s road congestion and compromised road safety will easily uncover the real villains in the act — and it’s mainly the poor motoring skills and psychological factors. Answers to why a motorist in Bengaluru is so tempted to violate traffic rules and make public spaces unsafe would then be easier found than by simply putting the blame on poor road infrastructure. It’s all in the mind of the motorist. No improvement in road infrastructure will be a solution to this problem if we continue ignoring the last two factors.

Author Foster Kinn, who wrote two non-fictions about his solo motorcycle rides throughout the United States and Canada, states, “The road listens. It believes in you.” But in Bengaluru, the motorist needs to listen, watch and think on the road, only then will it take you safely to your destination. Driving and riding is all about reaching a destination while ensuring safety, not maiming or killing someone, and reaching a different destination.

Nirad Mudur

Deputy Resident Editor, Karnataka


Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express