Saturday, March 15, 2014

Use dipper at night!

While driving through the highway it is a common message written on passing by trucks.  One of my friends gave me a nice business plan to start selling condoms by the name Dipper. According to him all those trucks will help market the product free of cost. It could also get very popular amongst the truck drivers and their associates as they are marketing for the product.

I did not want to go ahead with the plan. (I already have something else in my mind…but that’s another story).  This conversation led me think about the problems that a driver faces while driving at night.  High beam headlights piercing through the dirty-scratchy windshield, right into the eyes, trying to burn the retina. At times there are these big cars and SUVs with 4 headlights or white lights which make it even more difficult to drive while facing the glare.

To add to the woes, there are lots potholes that you need to be careful about, landing into which might give you lots of pain in the back too. Pebbles or small sized stones, some garbage, commuters and animals crossing roads – eh! What a pain!
In some parts of the city the street lights are found asleep during the night too (well, they were working for the whole day!). In such a situation a driver is only left to trust his/her gut feeling and/or experience to drive ahead.
Many a times, the driver is in so much hurry that they barely stop or slow down. It looks like everyone has joined an ever-going race, race to get ahead of each other, race to beat time. This leaves no room for patience – no one wants to wait. This is evident when we see people blowing the hell out of their car horns even when they know it’s a traffic jam and the prolonging loud noise of the car horn gives a severe momentary headache and added frustration.
It is common to see news in daily newspapers about somebody’s gut feeling gone wrong (while overtaking or such situations) resulting into an accident or a collision and death of many people. Often the truck / bus drivers are accused of killing bikers or pedestrians, but nobody accounts for their problems.
It is difficult to control or manoeuvre a truck or bus quickly to save a pedestrian. Bikers and pedestrians, in their hurry tend to quickly drift near or ahead of the truck or bus and a slight miss causes an accident. Obviously the one who is smaller in size and fragile suffers more. The bikers and pedestrians get public sympathy and truck and bus drivers are held responsible for the cause and are beaten up by an angry mob. I am not saying that all of those drivers are innocent but just accusing them every time is not fair either.
As per the law, ever vehicle has to have the top / half of the headlamps painted black and the driver side headlamp should also have a yellow strip. But how many such vehicles do we see on road? When the High Court questioned the Traffic Police department on not getting this followed rigorously, they helplessly gave an excuse that the modern day headlights are designed in such a way that they cannot be painted. It is difficult to determine the top half. Nothing happened since then!
The industry on the other hand is determined to create bulbs and lights with high luminosity and high end vehicles are studded with 4 headlamps with high luminosity causing even more glare.
Is there a way out? Well, I don’t know if the government or local officials are actually interested in finding a solution to this. They are happy travelling in their high end chauffeur driven cars. It is easier for them when the traffic comes to a stall to let them pass by.
What can we do? We can’t just sit and crib about the government for not taking any action. We can develop a level of understanding while driving on road. Other than the normal driving tips, some of the following points would help.
Show respect to the car coming in from the other side. If it is driving with a low beam, you turn to a low beam too.
Don’t drive in wrong direction, esp. with high beam on. If you have to have to drive in wrong direction, drive with low beam.
Ok, what if the other car has high beam on? Well, we need to show a dipper to them – High-Low-High-Low, just like we do when seeking a pass – so that the driver on the other side would get a signal that he/she needs to switch to the low beam.
We / they may switch to a high beam when there is no car coming from the other side. It’s so simple!
Hey wait! What if the other driver is unable to understand this message? Sigh! Well, initially many drivers will not be able to do so. We need to communicate this to our friends, relatives, colleagues and others so that we can create a better driving experience for each other. It would take time, but slowly and steadily we would reach our goal!
There are lots of other traffic issues too, wrong parking, etc. but I think those can be covered later on!
Till then remember, in an accident it does not matter whose mistake caused it, what matters is who was smart enough to drive without causing one!
Do share your driving experiences and tips in the comments.
Happy and safe driving!
- Vivek


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