Monday, 15 December 2014

Road Battles


Once upon a time, there was a kingdom called TrafficJamDom. The kingdom, which was sprawled over 500 km², harbored over 2 million carriages and wagons. Not to mention donkeys, mules and horses used by the citizens when traveling alone. The kingdom had population of more than 1.5 crores. It was a total nightmare for the king to handle the speedily rising population and the number of carriages and wagons.

One day, after being reported about a particularly nasty road accident wherein 58 people had lost their lives and 125 people were critically injured, the king was sitting alone in his garden. He was experiencing a sense of failure. He was ill-equipped to protect the inhabitants of his kingdom. He was unable to handle the issues that were successfully handled in the past by his father, grandfather and great grandfather.

He hated the taste of defeat, and defeat was worse when it wasn’t in war. It was a defeat from battles that his subjects fought daily, morn and night, on the public roads. A defeat wherein the lives of people who depended on him to protect them lost their lives or, worse, became crippled.

The prince entered the garden and immediately went to the king when he saw his father sitting dejectedly, staring in space.

“My lord, why are you looked peaked? Can I do something to ease your troubles?”

The king thoughtfully looked at his young son. Although he didn’t want to burden his son, he knew someday he had to pass over the reins of the kingdom to him. And that day didn’t look too far, the king realized when he noticed that his son’s features taking a masculine edge. His son had already lost baby fat few years back. Maybe in couple of years he will be ready for marriage.

Accepting the inevitable task of training his son to rule the kingdom one day, the king nodded the prince to take a seat.

“So what do you know about the traffic problem of our kingdom?”

The prince knew he was being tested and he wanted to please his father. The day he was eagerly waiting for had finally arrived.

“Father, I know we are facing lot of traffic issues. The streets are quite narrow and there are too many wagons and carriages. Due to irresponsible driving behavior of the citizens, the number of fatal accidents is rising.”

“It seems you have been keeping an eye on the problem.” The king couldn’t keep the note of pride out of his voice.

“Yes, father.” The prince was pleased with the praise.

“So have you thought of ways to solve this problem?”

“Yes,” the prince continued eagerly. “In fact, I have multi-faceted solution to the problem. Just the other day, I was going through the accident reports and I noticed a pattern. It’s like a carriage has to take care not to run into a horse, a horse has to take care not to run into a mule, and a mule has to take care not to run into a donkey. In short, a bigger carriage or animal has to take all the precautions while donkeys and mules are freely running without following any kind of traffic rules. The problem is exacerbated when the driver is intoxicated.”

“You have clearly defined the problem. What’s the solution?”

“It should first of all start with reorganizing our RTO department.”

“Why do you want to do that?” The king had no idea where the prince was going with the RTO.

“My lord, our RTO knights are one lazy bunch. They don’t educate the citizens properly about the traffic rules. On crossroads, they tend to stand under the shade of trees and let the wagons, carriages and animals get tangled up in traffic. If we drill some sense of responsibility and fear of career into these officers, they will start doing better. All the traffic rules should be implemented strictly. At night, random checks should be done on the intoxication levels of the drivers. The drivers above the acceptable limit should be thrown behind the bars without the chance of being bailed out. We also need a layer of officers who mentor the lower lines of constables on the roads. These officers should not only be properly qualified but they should have a strong sense of right and wrong.”

“Hmmm.” The king definitely liked what his son had to say.

“Secondly, we should start public carriages and offer highly discounted rates for the use of those carriages. This way, everyone will try to use public carriages – reducing the number of carriages on the street.”

Thirdly, we have to widen our roads and build special lanes for certain vehicles, say donkeys. Usually, donkeys are bad at following rules because the drivers always think they don’t have anything to lose – donkeys being quite cheaper compared to horses or wagons. If we have enough manpower, I think we should also regulate the licensing of donkeys and confiscating the licenses when the donkey drivers are careless. If possible, I’d also like to install devices that measure and record the speed of vehicles on the road. Catching reckless drivers will become easy this way. ”

“It seems you have thought a lot about it.” The king couldn’t be more pleased. He just wished he had discussed the issue with the prince sooner.

“Yes father. I’d also like us to start campaign that aims high-school students who will soon turn into drivers and drivers who have record of drunk driving. The campaign will be done by a team of psychologists who are experts in altering the thinking of people. This way, a naturally rash driver will stand a better chance of understanding the perils that he/she poses not only to himself/herself but also to the people around him/her.”

“Whatever you say makes sense but do you think it will yield results?”

“Father, nothing can be achieved overnight. Rome wasn't built in a night. No doubt it will require lot of work, not only from our side but also from our subjects. But once people realize the benefits of better road sense, we will never face the same issue again. We will never lose a single live in a petty road battle. The lives will be justly spent in wars that protect and prosper our kingdom.”

This post was written for a The Nissan Safety Driving Forum campaign held in association with