Horn OK Please !

Sep 22, 2010

Often while travelling in Mumbai, at every traffic light – major or minor – I see people jump lights with impunity. And it is not just the usual suspects –i.e., the autos and the cabs. Two-wheelers, cars of every make and size (self-driven and chauffeured), BEST buses (serious offenders) and the occasional Mumbai police Bolero/Qualis – basically anyone who can jump a light, does. Not that the other aspects of driving fare any better. But at least, until a year or so ago, it seemed like while Mumbai drivers never followed any other rule, the red light was still the last un-breached frontier. It seems we have changed!

India has some appalling road-fatality statistics. According to the 2007 report of World Road Statistics (WRS), India ranked number two with 94,985 people killed in road accidents. As in most other things nowadays, we were piped to the post by China, which lost 98,738 citizens.
Given our disregard for rules and our ignorance of the concept of self-restraint, I have attempted to create a list of suggestions to make our driving better, safer and less stressful. Please feel free to add to this list.

1. Our Government should ban the manufacture of car horns. So every new car will come without a horn.

2. At each intersection or crossing, introduce barrier gates/arms/turnpikes, like at a level crossing. Only the sides with the green lights will have their gates raised, the others will be shut, and so people will not be able to jump red lights. Of course, the barriers will have to be solid and extend all the way to the ground, so as to prevent two-wheeler riders from tilting their vehicles at 30˚ and sliding under the barrier.

3. Lanes should have dividers at least 12” high – this way we ensure that all drivers stick to their lanes. No cutting! Of course, if the guy in front decides to pick up a passenger, or generally stop to leisurely spit out of the window, you’re in a situation. But you can always beat him up. That’s still legal….or should be.

4. The horn should be banned

5. Indicators should be connected to the steering wheel. The moment the wheel moves more than 5˚ in either direction, the relevant indicator starts flashing.

6. Windows can’t be lowered while driving. This will take care of all spitting and “throwing-cans-out-of-the-car’ instances.

7. Driving licenses should only be issued after tests. I have always heard rumors of such a system. Will somebody please tell me if that’s true?

8. Driving licenses should not, by law, be issued to the blind. From personal experience, it seems that our country has the highest number of optically-challenged drivers on the road.

9. The horn should be banned.

10. No more than 364,566 pedestrians, 35 cows and 12 dogs to be allowed at any point of time per one-kilometer stretch of road.

11. The hi-beam headlight should be banned in vehicles that have headlights.

12. Vehicles should not be permitted to be overloaded beyond 500% capacity. (Of course, this does not apply to trains.) This rule should be strictly enforced.

13. Children under 12 should not be allowed to drive without a valid driving license.

14. Driving the wrong way in the path of oncoming traffic should be discouraged. More than 10 such instances should result in the cancellation of the offender’s driving license. If the offender did not have a driving license, he should not be issued one.

15. The horn should be banned

I realize that for most of us, rules like these will take the fun out of driving. So every weekend, we should allow people to come to a huge field in (or with) their vehicles of choice. (Handcarts, ponies, the occasional elephant, bicycles, dumpers, trucks, buses and tankers are all allowed.) Pedestrians, beggars and hawkers should also be encouraged to participate and generally mill around the field to better simulate Indian road conditions. Then each person should be allowed to drive his vehicle within the field in any manner or direction he chooses.
That way, we can still be true to our genes.

Robin Almeida - Archives:


by Robin Dyson Almeida
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Comment on this article

  • amith, M'lore,Dubai,NZ

    Sun, Sep 26 2010

    If all of the above things are done asap, it would not be called INDIA! In India, there are no rules. drive where ever you want... For the above mentioned list... we need to still find a country....... its never gonna happen!! i have been driving in about three country's now. This rules have never been used! its just a waste of time to think about it. In India? its NEVER EVER!!

  • M.B.Nataraj, Bangalore

    Sat, Sep 25 2010

    Thanks for an entertaining tongue in cheek write up.
    Totally wasted on most citizens and all drivers, enforcement folk.
    My suspecion that foreign car manufacturers are intentionally distributing their factory fitted cars with louder illegal musical horns. may not be baseless. Innova and Honda being major violators!
    I am sure, similar promotional tactics are employed by audio equipment manufacturers to push their goods on "LOUD" Indians distortion be damned!
    few things:
    no entry/one way spike strips to ensure lane discipline!
    A huge traffic pile up reported on NH 4, overturned vehicle blocked outbound lanes so they used the incoming lanes.
    our habit of flashing headlights-meant to indicate your intention to assert your right - becomes an aggression tactic to subdue by glaring, flashing the meeker,lawful driver!
    An underaged driver without license, should be issued one by influence and have it withdrawn upholding the Law majesty!
    Ban horn, give the driver a bamboo stick to stick into the spokes/al spoilers like Jutka driver to warn the other users of impending doom or a drum skin on the driver door panel also to be used to exercise fingers whiling at traffic jams or signals.
    Long live Bharat varsha!

  • John D'Souza, Belman/Mangalore

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    Dear Robin, instead of banning horns we need a louder and noisy horn in our life today. Because the information technology, mobile, internet and the electronic media has bolcked our eyes, ears and mouth and has placed us in the middle of a noisy factory where heavy machineries in operation.

    In front of huge information flow we ignore the high fuel cost, noisy sound pollution and harmful air pollution by our enormous vehicles. We are busy with our daily/routine hectic schedules and blame/talk about only problems and no one cares about solutions.

    Even if there is an opportunity to earn a billion dollars of income per day by way of saving and by this millions of people can earn their daily bread, we are least concerned or plainly ignore it, bcause we are busy and fully occupied with our own pressure and tension.

  • Dinesh, Mangalore/USA

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    Bo..Mooo... Why horns banned on myself? Did we ask to ban anything on your head? Allow us to just wander around and munch on paper, leaves, bidis, ...
    ... Meandering Bull

    Robin, fantastic article!! Excellent sense of humor. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

  • Shalini Pinto, Mangalore / Nottingham, U.K

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    Hi Robin I dont agree with you on banning the horn, horn is quite essential but only when there is danger to alert other vehicle. Sounding horn because one's getting late to reach the destination or to overtake is offence. Journey should be planned ahead, give extra time for congestion, traffic lights, etc.

    Road users including pedestrians should stictly follow traffic rules
    for eg: stop when red, cross when safe, go when green etc.

    Driving tests including theory should be made strict.

    Penalty to traffic offenders & anti corruption measures should be carried out.

    Regulations like children under 18 should not be driving without a valid license should be brought into existance
    Traffic law followed in western countries should be introduced.

  • John D'Souza, Belman/Mangalore

    Wed, Sep 22 2010

    Hi Robin, I am sure, along with horns you are also concerned about sound and air pollution and costly fuel consumption by our vehicles. We have more than a billion people who are living vehicles along with billions of non-human beings as living vehicles in India. If they release similar volume of smoke and sound what might be the fate of our envoirnment? How long we can efford this costly affair and difficult sacrifices? Are we ready to follow and implement a new concept on our land transport where more than 70% of our fuel can be saved along with dramatic reduction in sound and air pollution? We have been pulling our vehicles from a stand still position since the invention of wheel and engine. Now at least can we think to move and run by using valuable free natural energy to a certain extent and enjoy the enormous benefits?

  • Bulsam, Mangalore

    Wed, Sep 22 2010

    In India everything is 'OK PLEASE'. There are specific world standards for everything but the Govt just don't wish to introduce them. According to world standard:
    1. Driving license is issued after In-between Car/Garage/Slope Parking and various road tests. The Smart-Card driving license has computerised photo,Blood group & Offenses punchable column to trace breaking the rules.
    2. Vehicles have Road Worthiness Test, Std.Number Plate with Road Tax Expiry Date Punched on it.
    3. Every road has different Sign Boards like Speed Limits, No Parking/Stopping near Road-Junctions, Stop & Proceed etc so as to discipline the drivers and the violators are mercilessly punished and their License confiscated till fine is paid.
    4. There are set rules for driving, stopping, parking, overtaking, putting indicator/hazard/head light, honking, apply/release of hand brake, seat belt, different carriage-way rules on using the track for Slow/Fast/Overtake/Stop etc. Popularly our drivers use Rt. Indicator signaling the back driver to overtake whereas in reality it is for Rt.Turn or to signal the back driver not to overtake.
    5. It is the duty of the driver to stop if any vehicle/human signals to enter the lane or cross road instead our drivers race ahead so that they are stuck and the traffic is chocked.
    Unless all the corrupt RTOs are sacked en-mass as a first step in the right direction, Indian roads will be the biggest killer.
    If all the RTO rules are not applied strictly such rules have no meaning.

  • adshenoy, mangloor

    Wed, Sep 22 2010

    " Sounding horns make sleeping drivers awake". No abuse of horns though. It makes sense with what dichoo has written.
    Satistics-wise whats the percentage compared to population? Is this high compared to most nations?
    India is the only nation that shares roads with animals- perhaps signifies co-existence with mother nature.

  • jerald , belman

    Wed, Sep 22 2010

    hello robin really good article and collection dear,but many thingscan not be imlemented i nindai dear ,u mentioned 3 to 5 time regarding horns should be banned etccc,but all the world horns should be there but with a certain db sound level,with out horn more people cant drive dear ,some one can try for some period but not for a long period,and u can see at punehighway thy fixed fence along the road ,but some people will try to break it with influence and again we will be in india with indian standards not international stanards,but we start with international standards but slowly it will decending to indian standards

  • Dichoo, Manipal

    Wed, Sep 22 2010

    This was a system started by British when they were here in India. They were very particular regarding traffic discipline. They also attached lot of importance to dignified behaviour. They considered frequent honking as undignified. Hence, they came out with this System (I am not sure whether this existed in UK - Narahari Joshi can perhaps confirm) wherein the Commercial vehicles had to display the words "SOUND HORN", "OKAY", "PLEASE" and "THANK YOU" compulsarily on the rear side of the vehicle. As I understand, without these words, RTO would not and even today does not issue road permits. Of course, few words have disappeared now.

    Now, why display these?

    In the good olden days, there were 4 bulbs below each of these four phrases. When driving a four wheeler on the road, suppose the driver [let us call him/her 1st driver] notices another vehicle coming from behind, but is not certain whether the driver [let us call him 2nd driver] in the 2nd vehicle wants to overtake the 1st vehicle or not. The 2nd driver cannot use the horn as it is considered indecent. So what does he/she do, but wait patiently for the 1st vehicle to give way.

    When the 1st driver realizes that the 2nd vehicle wants to overtake, he/she switches on the first bulb, above which the SOUND HORN words are displayed. [This was considered as a polite way of asking whether you want to overtake]. When the driver of the 2nd vehicle sees this light, he/she will press the horn if there is an intention to overtake. To confirm that he/she has heard the horn and is now aware that the 2nd driver wants to overtake, the first driver switches on the 2nd bulb, above which 'OKAY' is displayed. [This was considered as an acknowledgement]. Of course, the 2nd driver will not overtake immediately. They continue to move on and when the 1st driver is sure that the road ahead is clear and that there is no vehicle is coming from the opposite side, he/she will switch on the third light, above which 'PLEASE' is displayed. [This was considered as a permission to overtake]. The 2nd driver will overtake the vehicle only after this. Having overtaken the first vehicle, the 2nd driver is expected to show his/her gratitude. So, the 2nd driver will switch on the 4th light in his/her vehicle that says "THANK YOU" and then move on!!

  • Tom Cat , Mangalore/ Saudi Arabia

    Tue, Sep 21 2010

    Robin do you want the RTO staff to commit suicide?

  • Faiz, Udupi

    Tue, Sep 21 2010

    Hey Robin, looks like you got everything covered here, nothing to add.India does need to streamline driving ethics a long unwinding road...

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