November 24, 2006

Morning at the junction

Walking along a suburban road this morning, coming up to an intersection, I see, first, a cycle on that road crossing the intersection (i.e. perpendicular to me), and second, a car on that road turning onto mine. The car actually overtakes the cyclist and takes the turn ahead of him. Doing so, it grazes the cycle, nearly knocking him over. The man recovers his balance, then stands there, looking at his hand and shaking it in some pain.

Turn made, the car speeds towards me. As it approaches, I see that it is a father dropping his young son to the nearby school. When he is alongside, he seems to realize -- perhaps my gesticulating has something to do with it -- that something has happened. So he slows and turns to look. I yell, at least you can stop and see if he's OK! It's futile, because he has his windows up. He turns back, speeds up and is gone towards the school. As he vanishes, I memorize the registration number.

In a few seconds, I've reached the cyclist, with another guy. Cyclist tells us he's all right. Now shaking his head, he says, the man didn't even stop. He hit me, and he didn't even stop.

MH 43 A 7065, black Tata Indigo. I hope your son didn't learn a lesson this morning.


Anonymous said...

I'd have kicked the guy's door. In fact I've done that once but the car wasn't interested in anything except getting to destination as fast as possible...

Naming and shaming is a good idea.

Anonymous said...

You know this is what I am really worried about, that the young are really learning from what the elders are doing. Its not only this father, its also what these school buses, vans and even the schools themselves are doing.

Vikrum said...

This does not surprise me whatsoever. These things happen on a daily basis in Bombay and other Indian cities. I think Rahul's suggestion is a good one.

Anonymous said...

Well it wasn't my suggestion, it's what Dilip did (to the extent he could).

Incidentally, I've seen cyclists at the giving end too. I was on my cycle at an intersection, an elderly pedestrian is waiting to cross the road, and a guy in front of me jumps onto his cycle, pedals vigorously, temporarily loses control, crashes into the pedestrian, and then goes off without even slowing down. Luckily the pedestrian wasn't badly hurt. He was too far ahead for me to try stopping him, and nobody else seemed bothered.

Quizman said...

Dilip - I do agree with your viewpoint that he should've stopped, but my guess is that he probably did not precisely due to attitudes reflected in the comments by Rahul. In desi streets, we do tend to take the law onto our own hands. Far too often, the good samaritan who actually stops either gets abused/pummelled by the bystanders or gets extorted. I've had this happen to me twice. Once,I knocked a black-Hero cyclist going without lights over at night - even the cyclist was wearing a black shirt. I just didn't see him while taking a turn. I stopped and we had a nice jovial conversation. But soon a crowd gathered and started abusing me and extorted 250/- from me and handed it to the victim even when he was on my side. The funny part is that the victim himself was a kind sort who was very understanding of the whole thing.

The second time, a scooter ran straight into my car when the scooter's driver did not stop at a 4-way intersection. I stopped to enquire and help the guy. The guy said in colloquial Kannada "I see cops walking towards us. Go away. Run. Take off. Don't worry about me." But like a fool I waited. Soon, the scooter guy took off. The cops came and literally extorted Rs.300/- (no receipt) from me, even though I was not at fault. Judgement, jury-decision and execution on the spot.

No wonder people are terrified of the law and self-appointed lawmen.

Anonymous said...

Quizman -- I can't speak for Bangalore. But in Chennai, the police and public seem
essentially fair-minded in such situations. I've been stopped for a minor violation (taking a left that wasn't "free") a couple of times, they charged a fine according to the rulebook and gave me a receipt. I pointed out to them that bus drivers do much worse things at much busier intersections, and they spent time telling me how they do try to control it, how they send notices to the bus company even if they can't stop the bus on the spot, and how I too can call 100 to register a complaint.

In fact, on the second occasion the policeman actually ended up waiving the fine and said he's never met a driver who acknowledged a mistake before, and asked me to look for him and say hello every time I pass that intersection. I haven't violated a traffic rule since (as far as I know).

My complaint about the police is that they don't prevent accidents -- they don't pull up dangerous drivers (who weave through busy traffic at high speeds) until they actually hit somebody.

I don't advocate beating up rash drivers but I do advocate stopping them if they try to run away -- including, yes, risking damage to their car. I'd like to say that nobody would treat a driver badly if he voluntarily stopped, but unfortunately I've never actually seen it happen.

However, once when a bus rammed the side of my car at a traffic light (it cost me Rs 6000 to fix the damage) the driver got out, apologised, and begged me not to file a complaint. And I didn't, though it was clearly his fault and the police weren't far away. I certainly would have filed an FIR (required if I want to collect insurance) if he'd gone on without stopping.

Anonymous said...

1. ---> that the young are really learning from what the elders are doing <---

My son quite literally does this, at intersections on a red signal, he looks for cops and asks me why I have stopped, if he doesnt spot one.

2. The Indian mob attitude is its usually the bigger vehicles fault- predecided and sealed.

I dont think one would have to actually beat up the rash drivers oneself to have them beaten. One just has to take the lead by kicking in their doors, and the crowd that has gathered will follow through with the thrashing. The kicker lights the fuse but will not be able to extinguish the flame.