Not taught about road etiquette


A much referred to one-liner suggests that if someone learns how to drive in Delhi, he can drive in practically any city in the world.

This isn’t, of course, a compliment — it’s a concise but rather effective description of the sort of driving etiquette that exists in the City.

Red lights are dismissed as inconvenient technicalities, one-way signs seem to be open to interpretation and the concept of lane-driving a mere formality. In this chaotic mess, accusing fingers are pointed in every direction; but the one factor that stands to reason is that perhaps these drivers simply haven’t been taught about road etiquette in the first place.

Getting to the proverbial root of the problem, the obvious culprit would appear to be the City’s driving schools. Many of them approach their task as a very simple one: get the customer a licence, period. Very few driving instructors actually take the time to educate learners about the intricacies of road etiquette — such as avoiding bumper-to-bumper driving, switching lanes in a responsible manner and the fact that the horn
cannot be used as an answer to everything.

The consequence? A crop of badly-educated, aggressive drivers who simply worsen the condition of already-congested traffic. Metrolife speaks to a few drivers to find out whether their experiences at driving school were satisfactory.

Nagesh, who works at a driving school in Dwarka, points out that most instructors have to cramp their lessons into a mere 10 days or so – on an average – and hence stick to teaching the basics.

“But we do advise learners on how to drive in traffic, lane-driving and other such important details,” he insists.

Aditya, an MBA student, however, has a different story to share. He recalls, “There were many things my instructor didn’t tell me, which I had to figure out on my own – for instance, taking note of a car’s brake lights. I also wasn’t really taught about the overtaking mechanism.”

Personally, he feels that most of these schools have become too commercialised and are taking on more students than they have time for. “They simply stick to telling us how to sync the clutch and accelerator and don’t look at it from the perspective of teaching us how to be safe drivers. Most of these schools manage to get their students a licence without undergoing a proper test — a few verbal questions and it’s over.

Whether one answers correctly or not, he or she is given a permanent licence within a day,” he reflects.

However, not everyone has negative anecdotes to share. Ritwik, who’s pursuing MCA, claims his own experience was fairly good. “My instructor was a serene fellow – no temper issues at all. He also had a real knack for easing you into different techniques slowly. Besides, he was always insistent on safe driving. He would not let me start the car without putting on my seatbelt and taught me how to stick to my lane.

However, he was an exception. He happened to have a conscience but I saw instructors from the same school who had no qualms about not teaching road etiquette,” he explains.

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