Death stalks the Pune roads and we know it and do nothing about it.
There are traffic rules in place but the enforcers are busy elsewhere cracking down on minor violations or hoping to make a quick buck. The everyday free-for-all on the roads witnesses a range of offences which are treated as part of regular driving.
Signals be damned, one-way streets mean going two- way too and speeding a way of life.
Let’s face it. We have become selfish when it comes to driving. We have stopped caring for others and lax traffic control has contributed to that. Even manners have been forgotten. Let somebody pass first and all you get is a glare or nothing at all. “Thank you” seems to be forgotten word.
We have developed an impatience which manifests itself in forgetting common curtseys. Very few wait to let children and the elderly cross the road.
Some mannerless brutes, who flash their ill-gotten or easy gains with huge SUVs, may even knock them off the roads. You can’t expect better from people who should be on bullock carts really. Then there is the motorcycle menace. Some of these chaps think overtaking must always be done from the left. So don’t be surprised if you see a wheel edging into the little space between you and another car, straining to get ahead.
The most dangerous are those who use their mobiles while driving.
Despite repeated warnings from the police, mobile phones are used on a regular basis without care for others.
Two-wheeler riders use one hand on the handle and the other to chat, zigzagging often and confusing those behind them. The cars guys, of course, think it is their right to do what they want. They drive slowly in the middle or on the fast lane oblivious to all others in deep conversation.
So this is the daily dose one has to take while traversing the roads in Pune. But it doesn’t end with the traffic alone. The roads themselves are full of holes, cracked and often with manholes in the middle.
The municipality feigns ignorance even if the roads resemble Mars.
An occasional burst of conscience leads to patchwork repairs which erode before you travel next there.
Worse still are the speed-breakers which are never painted white and are placed at irregular intervals. For example, you may go over three speed-breakers over a 100-metre area. These are never-ending problems which occur day in and day out.
The police have short campaigns, arrest a few hundreds and think that their job is done. It is more to do with achieving their targets than trying to clamp on violators.
The municipal corporation makes big promises during elections and then promptly forgets until the next polls come by. Ultimately, the onus will fall on us. Mere protests will evoke promises which never will be fulfilled.
Is there any way, however small, in which we can contribute to make our roads safer?
We are in fact helpless. All we can take small steps in that direction by educating our friends and relatives.We can hope they too would spread the message.
But to come out of this cauldron of carelessness and despair, is going to be a long haul.
The police need to do their job instead standing under a shady tree. Wrong driving must not be tolerated.
The municipality must give serious thought to the roads. Their condition is sure to hasten the deaths of many. Until then don’t forget to say a little prayer when you set out on your vehicle. Only divine intervention can help us from Pune’s roads and traffic.