Raising a storm on the road

Raising a storm on the road

Increasing intolerance

Raising a storm on the road

Take any road in the city and one can see incidents of road rage on a daily basis. This not only delays one’s journey but also adds to the already chaotic situation on the city roads.

Rajashree P, a counsellor, says, “Though road rage isn’t that bad here, people bickering on the road has become a daily ordeal now.”

She adds that when one doesn’t get enough ‘me time’, irritation can pile up. “Anything could trigger a quarrel. Imagine having a strenuous work schedule and not having enough time in one’s personal life too — this is a pressure cooker-like situation. One is bound to lose their cool.”

Narrow roads like the ones in Gandhi Bazaar and other market areas witness many such unpleasant arguments. In Gandhi Bazaar, often motorists ride on the footpath, which leads to a lot of confusion. Rahul Jain, a restaurateur in Gandhi Bazaar, says that one can see two-wheeler riders shouting at pedestrians for walking slowly on the footpath. “This can be noticed more among the youth, who are either headed to work or under pressure,” says Rahul. “Some youngsters pick up fights at the drop of a hat. A small incident can escalate to a serious situation,” adds Rahul.

Often just a grazing by the vehicle can lead to a boisterous argument, says Sukumar Kanchanapalli, a football coach with a school, who was caught in a heated argument recently. “The traffic was maddening and the rear view mirror of my bike touched a car. The man in the car lost his cool and started shouting. I was shocked as it was unintentional and despite my explaining calmly, he kept going.” Sukumar says that incidents like these are becoming a daily sight in places like Sahakarnagar, which has many small roads and much traffic congestion. “There are also times when people flout rules and create problems for other riders. There are many who won’t put proper indicators and this can lead to quarrels. Many people I know including me, are afraid to ride now,” adds Sukumar.

While mounting frustration is seen as a reason to road rage, Dr Girishchandra BS, a consultant psychiatrist with Bangalore Neuro Centre, says that there could be different reasons for road rage.

 “If someone is unwell, he or she is prone to losing their cool and get irritated faster. Chances of them getting upset is higher. Also, for many people it is easier to get angry with strangers than with people they are close to,” he says.

Dr Girishchandra adds that there have been cases of people not knowing how to deal with increasing stress. “Often, the partners of people who come to us tell us about how they have been losing their cool. There have been cases when one spends one-fourth of the day travelling to and from work and this can be really taxing,” he says.

How does one combat this situation? While there are penalties for wrong U-turns, riding without a helmet etc, there are no fines levied for road rage. Manish Rungta, assistant chief traffic warden (Ulsoor), says, “Road rage is a serious matter today, but unfortunately it isn’t a recognised offence. There is no defined law to book someone under road rage; it is just included in rash driving cases.” 

He points out that road rage is “an invisible disease no one wants to identify”. “There are different components to road rage. It doesn’t happen with just illiterate people; in fact the literate ones are the ones who get more involved. When something unexpected happens, they get angry or irritated. This involves people not following rules including zig-zag riding by two wheelers. We had introduced a campaign where there has to be a 10- metre-distance between the vehicles. However, when a safe distance of  three metres is kept between vehicles, an autorickshaw or two-wheeler pushes their way in.

“The road by itself is another component, where the BBMP comes into the scene. The roads are not scientifically designed and are not properly marked,” he adds.

Manish points out that enforcement of law will go a long way to make a difference. “A general awareness and separate fines would be a good way to deal with this. Everyone needs to identify that this exists. It’s only when one faces it, it becomes a huge issue,” he says

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