“Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel” crooned the Doors. But it wasn’t just for the sake of crooning that they belted out this piece. It’s a very sane bit of advice especially while driving on killer highways like what NH-8 has become now. NH-8 was never a typical highway (At least not in the recent past and not in the NCR area) since it always had so much of traffic and too many arteries merging into it. With the opening up of almost all the flyovers on the highway the situation has improved somewhat (only to some extent and only at certain times of the day). But there are still lots of bottlenecks to be sorted out.
Thankfully now that I don’t have to commute to Delhi at least on weekdays I am spared the misery that some of my colleagues daily go through – the misery called being stuck in a traffic jam ON a flyover. That apart, I have had my fair share of misery being stuck in traffic jams caused just because of traffic waiting to cross over to the other side of NH-8. But the hazardous way in which some of the things are functioning really make me wonder whether we were better off earlier.
1. The speed limit on the roads is 50km/hr for LMV’s! What? With NHAI vehemently claiming a 20 minute journey from Delhi to Gurgaon. ie. from Dhaula kuan to Rajiv chowk, did they forget to do their basic maths right? Anyhow when the roads are empty, who’s stopping people from clocking 120 km/hr? That too people who are STARVED for some real driving in gears beyond the first.
2. Cyclists/Rickshaw wallahs/stray pedestrians on the flyovers – just when would this menace stop? Finally some graphic boards have been put up which show that cycles/rickshaws arent allowed on the flyovers. I dont remember seeing anything for the pedestrians though. And anyway, who’s stopping the above mentioned menaces from coming onto the flyovers? No one. Exactly the problem. What does one do when one is at a high speed, in the rightmost lane and suddenly there looms ahead a cyclist or better still a pedestrian who’s got some real estate plans on the right side of the road and hence is guarding territory?! One ends up braking or swerving dangerously.
3. Forget the smaller mosquitoes. Who takes care of the LMV’s and at times trucks/cranes/construction machines standing on either side of the road? That too with no indicators/blinkers/indicative boards on? I have actually seen accidents on NH-8 which have happened due to this reason, not to mention luckily avoiding some myself! How much IQ does it take to realise that if you have overshot a particular turn you dont just brake in the middle of the road and STAY there. You get driven over if you do that. Getting to one side of the road is the least you can do. And driving a few kms extra never hurts as much as another vehicle banging head on would.
4. Coming back to pedestrians, my only question is, guys why do you need to CROSS a damned flyover? Whether it is the peak or the trough of the flyover, pray tell me why? Aren’t you aware that you aren’t exactly flourescent? I may not see you but at least you can see a big vehicle coming towards you at high speed with bright lights? Why do you have to scurry across the road like the three blind mice? And for heaven’s sake, at least decide on which goddamn side you want to run to, before you start the scurrying! Agreed NHAI has done absolutely NOTHING in providing pedestrian crossings but there are enough peaks in the flyovers for you to cross UNDER from. When we talk of such delicious temptations like crossing the road from anywhere, anytime at whatever gait one pleases, how can two wheelers be far behind? Cyclists and even scooterists and bikers ALL, indulge in this tribal dance to get to the other side, at times even jutting out their dangerous behinds from the dividers. The pity is that the only ones who are actually bound to go straight on the road end up braking/swerving violently! Even though NHAI has put up some ubiquitous NHAI boards in the middle of the roads to deter pedestrians, does that help? No. They forgot that man is the descendent of the monkey. In the month of february alone, pedestrian deaths were already at a maximum on NH-8. Even poor animals have learnt to stay away from NH-8 after being splattered occasionally. Why can’t you?
5. Now why just talk about the ones who use the flyovers? Let’s talk about the ones who constructed them and are still in the process of taking care of the most important details, bit by bit. Yeah we’ve got milleniums to keep doing the left over bits even after the flyovers are being used for daily traffic. Fine, so NHAI forgot that the electricity poles they erected on the divider would probably cost them a pretty penny when it comes to consumption. So while changing them, NHAI also chooses to forget those poles lying on the road waiting for some commuters to do a pole vault? And if they have to dig a cemetry for them poor poles which never saw the light of the day (or night), why cant they at least keep that humungous dump of mud somewhere else, instead of on the fastest lane on both sides, that too without any warning/indication of any sort? Ok, you got the precious real estate there and we can even overlook your guys picnicking there in their undies, but the least you can do is put up some of those ubiquitous boards of yours or some indicators which are helpful to commuters like us? And while we are at it, please learn a thing or two from DMRC and put those boards so as to aid us and not to cause more accidents!
6. The biggest menace of all – us. Lane driving is something that clearly no one wants to do in Delhi! In all this time of driving on the highway, I have barely seen any drivers giving indicators before changing lanes or even driving in the correct lanes to begin with, whereas I painstakingly like a fool insist on indicators. I actually think no one bothers to even see those indications! Why are autos and other threewheelers/twowheelers always in the righmost lane? Why don’t ppl simply understand that the rightmost lane is the fastest. If you cant go beyond the first gear, move over to the left lane! Pity, here people dont even respect the lines drawn on the road – also known as lanes. Looks like the only “lane” they ever got acquainted with was Lois! And what’s with people sitting out picnicking on the divider with their feet sticking out on the rightmost lane? Yeah you might have got the costliest pedicure done but please keep your booties to yourself else you just might not be left with them!
7. Traffic police – half of the times the traffic lights under the flyovers aren’t working and you aren’t there either for some manning of the signals. And did I say earlier you were weak in your maths? If one has to cross a certain distance to get to the other side of the traffic signal, would you time your traffic signal thus, that the moment you reach halfway, the traffic signal changes and then all the directions end up doing a close waltz, in the said ballroom of your making? And where are the stop lines? With bigger turns and bigger angles (at times multiple turns under the same flyover) arent you supposed to indicate CLEAR stop lines and signboards and traffic signals calculated to enable commuters to at least *get* to the other side before playing chameleon?
My only conclusion is – It is so dangerous to drive in the rightmost (or even leftmost) lanes of this highway that I prefer driving in the middle lanes. One never knows when one may encounter a pedestrian, a cyclist, a jaywalker, a picnicking bunch with various paraphernalia or body parts sticking out into the rightmost lane, a pole (for vaulting or not is left to us), a mud heap that appears like a mountain looming large (thanks for the landscaping), trucks, cranes or other LMV’s/HMV’s wanting to encroach on NHAI property or ubiquitous NHAI boards that are kept parallel to the roads direction which means they are invisible boards and they cant be seen. In a project that’s already 2 years behind schedule, when NHAI does implement the toll part of this project onto us commuters, I am sure the situation would get even more dramatic and chaotic. There’s still a substantial time before all these issues get sorted out and actually make the Delhi-Gurgaon drive smooth and safe to say the least.