Why Pile-ups like Yamuna Expressway Won’t Cease


Why Pile-ups like Yamuna Expressway Won’t Cease

Illustration: Sushant Ahire/Arré

Indians treat fellow motorists the same way they would treat a dog turd lying in the middle of the road: We ignore it until it gets really close, then swerve out of the way at the last minute, swearing the entire time. Experts from around the world will probably agree that this is not the ideal way to conduct yourself when you’re travelling at 120 kmph in a Korean-made metal death machine. But statistics repeatedly show that when it comes to driving, most Indians have learnt the ropes from Salman Khan(‘s driver).

It’s not surprising that we have incidents like the Yamuna Expressway pile-up when 90 per cent of the reflecting lights made in this country are probably sent to Sunburn for raves. Car makers in India have given up on trying to sell people safety equipment and have instead shifted focus to the things that really matter — like owning a touchscreen radio. The closest thing we can get to a free airbag in our lives are the gaseous emissions Rishi Kapoor lets out on Twitter.

Road safety in our country is treated as a bit of a joke, considering we don’t use the roads as a way to travel, but as a way to release pent-up aggression. Travelling on the roads is also beneficial for the rare few who have run through their list of swear words and need to learn a few new ones. Meanwhile, the people who teach us, the truck drivers, and the rickshaw drivers how to drive couldn’t care less about the difference between a clutch and the Rann of Kutch. The licence that we get at the end of the process, is basically just a receipt for ₹600.

This is not to say that it’s all the motorists’ fault (except for the guy on a bike. It’s ALWAYS his fault). Roads in India have a habit of closely resembling the craters on the moon. It’s almost like we got the same guy who designed the roller coaster at Imagica to lay down the blueprint for our national highways. But to be honest, at this point it’s a little unfair to blame the tools we’re given, when our display of driving workmanship often involves staring at roadside posters of Katrina Kaif sucking a mango. While in fourth gear.

Situations like the Yamuna Expressway pile-up are truly horrific, but not completely unavoidable. North India is hardly the first place to have witnessed smog, and as we know well enough, drivers don’t hesitate to use their high beams or blinkers, even in the middle of the afternoon. They just don’t use them when necessary. If only Indians would take road safety as seriously as we do financial security, our traffic situation wouldn’t have so much in common with Road Rash.