“Road-o-pathy”- 8 July 2018.

It is time we declared the so called normal behaviour on roads as abnormal. The traffic offenses are increasing as laws are being breached rather than preached.

I often wonder who issues the license to drive a car and ride bikes to these ignorant and innocent people who stand in the queue at the traffic red light on the extreme left lane and then suddenly swerve to the extreme right cutting across the law abiding cars that are standing in the right lane. By right here I mean the proper lane they are supposed to be in. I often wonder where the license-issuing authorities have learnt/trained themselves in road sense/discipline and which state or country teaches them the principle of parking themselves with their precious vehicles in wrong lanes and then jumping across all cars and running to the right lane as it turns green! I truly admire their swerving skills and their swiftness in doing it so adroitly which puts my senses to shame! I am so slow cause my heart misses a beat as I jam the brakes with full force and stay there catching my breath! I fear that if I had not applied the brake hard enough I could have run over them but that’s my problem and not theirs you would agree!

One guy writes to me that there is no such thing as ‘gaming disorder’ that I discussed in my last column and in fact virtual games help build so many skills and one of them is ‘speed’! So are these young devils on two wheelers ‘digital youth’ who have tutored themselves on speed on video games! Along-with speed they have also learnt acrobatics –the art of jumping lanes and veering right to left and left to right in a jiffy! Amazing skills indeed!

The parallel attitude is seen in their thought process too besides their action. They cannot stand in a straight line- they will break the queues and form another queue and many other queues in a minute. They will squeeze into the tiniest of spaces between cars and the divider risking their lives, and like rats they come and invade from all sides! An aerial viewpoint of a traffic signal square in my beloved city will be a hilarious picture of a herd of animals flocked at the square in the most disorganised and jumbled manner! As the signal goes green the picture will be even more absurd with bikes and cars criss-crossing each other in ways unthinkable! The cars on the right are turning left, the ones on the left are turning right and the ones who want to go straight are blocked by both sides! In between this chaos ten bikers will zoom past from nowhere to nowhere! Admirably, the bikers are jumping every norm and creating their own rules- it is actually your own lookout how you manage to save your skin, as the traffic police watches helplessly and shrugs his shoulder and yawns! A good half km away from the square you may get a sense of normalcy before the next square has already arrived as the distance between squares is knowingly short!

I often feel I have gone to the wrong school and have been trained wrongly. Nobody taught me to jump signals, stand in the left lane when I have to turn to the right, break the queue and form your own, break all the rules and shout out to the other in offense and be brazenly arrogant on the road. I was not told to ignore the rest of the world and their rights, behave as if the entire road belonged to me and my father, that, my grandfather was the actual builder of the road and what not. Instead, I was told to respect others- that, the rules are for the benefit of everyone, that I must wait for my turn in the line and I must not honk unnecessarily. I was told by my guardian that even at midnight at the red light I must stop and wait for it to go green, even if there was no traffic on the road, for the law of the land was a law made to be followed by all and for the benefit of all. I was told to wait my turn and then drive safely.

I also marvel at the sense of town planners who are busy cementing the roads across the city but are oblivious to the principle of creating different lanes for cars that flow smoothly at turns and crossings. This means better road planning and creating more roads than one. We cannot teach ‘lane sense’ to commuters when the all the lanes on the single road converge and diverge from a single point! It is too much stress for the commuters to pay for the folly of road authorities but nevertheless we have to put the blame on someone! Abnormal behaviour is largely caused by environmental factors you would agree.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) took quite many years in deciding to declare the ‘gaming disorder’ in the classification of diseases of the mind. I wonder what disorder this nonsense on the road would fall into. Hyperactivity disorder it is said to be is prevalent in only a small percentage of people but on our dear city roads it is a large percentage –a majority of people behave like in a disorder! Also hyperactive people do not necessarily offend the law. I wonder how WHO would react to the behaviour of Nagpurians on the road and what diagnosis would be appropriate enough for them to coin.

‘Sociopathy’ and ‘Psychopathy’ are the terms used for people who break the law and commit offenses without feeling remorse about their actions and damage done to others. Perhaps for the habitual road and traffic offenders we could diagnose them with a new malady and name it as ‘Road- Sociopathy’ or ‘Road-o-pathy’!

This is a wake-up call for citizens to check their own behaviour as well as their wards and to realise whether either one is behaving like a road-o-path, and to make amends before the madness multiplies and they kill themselves and others in the process in larger numbers.

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