Saturday, March 12, 2011

Driving Mania

Two days back, I stepped out of my break room for lunch, while at work and hoping to have a refreshing lunch with my husband, started walking towards the car.

A loud noise, as if a tire had burst; the sound of metal hitting and being shattered; the screeching sound of brakes and the sound of somebody being asked if they were alright, stopped me in my tracks. I was not prepared for what I saw next. It was a big truck overturned and tipped over, with its driver side hit really bad. There was a smashed car in the wrong lane, which stopped just in time to avoid the oncoming traffic. It was a split second in which all this happened and I could not wrap my mind around it. I thought I should maybe call 911, but I just froze. This was the first time I saw a crash so closely and it shook me.

But, there were others who were faster in their responses. And I saw a lady literally jump out of her car, with a cell phone in her hand, running to the tipped truck, and kept asking the driver if he was alright. I was listening to her intently and I heard "No" twice. I was scared and had goosebumps all over me. What would happen now, how serious were the injuries of the person, was he/she going to be alright? To answer all these questions and to take care of the situation, it was within a span of 5 minutes, that all the emergency vehicles arrived on the spot. The police, ambulance, fire engines, everybody was there. And yet they could not get the person out. To complicate issues, there was gasoline leaking out of the tank and had surrounded the vehicle. The impending task at hand was to take care of that, to prevent any chance of fire.

I could see the medics at work for almost 30 minutes, but the only thing that kept bothering me was the safety of the driver. What was the complication that so many people could not get him out? Lunch was over and I had not been able to eat too much. With a heavy heart, I went in, not knowing what would happen next, but hoping that the driver would be fine.

Noticing my pale face, my colleagues asked what was wrong and I narrated it to them. Although very consoling, they looked surprised that I was so badly affected by it. I kept telling them that it was my first time witnessing a crash. But, was it really true??? It is not like I hadn't seen accidents in India. So, what was it about this that brought tears to my eyes and scared me so much? After digging deep, I realized that all this while, I was under an illusion; as organized and well-kept America is, it could not be untouched by the perils of driving. After driving in the chaos of the Indian traffic, such regulated driving as in America led me to think of it as a perfect world.

But was it really perfect??? It couldn't be; nothing can ever be, which I think everyone will agree to. Something that puts humans in control of such large machines with high speeds, could never be safe and perfect. Because humans are designed to make mistakes, and it could be the tiniest mistake that could make this huge thing turn back on you. And to top it all, everything is like a high-speed chase.

It got me thinking; in India, there could be accidents, but they would not be so major. But, it is also a fact that help sometimes comes in so late, that the little accident becomes fatal. On the other hand, America has some of the fastest cars, some of the highest speed limits, and it would seem as nothing but inviting danger. Yet, the response time is so quick for emergency services, that someone could be saved from the jaws of death in the nick of time. So how do you chose the lesser of the two evils? Is it better to have numerous small accidents in your lifetime, one of which could cost you more? Or is it better to have one scary huge accident, but stand a chance of being saved?

I kept telling my friends, that it was better to be driving in India because it wasn't as scary. But was it true? The Indian driving scene is chaotic, everybody thinks as though they own the road, there is no concept of "right of way", everybody is always in a hurry and everyone wants to win the race, but it is forgotten that the roads are not even that good. There are bumps, potholes, and what not. Just because the speeds are not as high, driving becomes manageable and danger is kept at bay.

So, is driving in America scary, just because of the high speeds? Should the fact that the traffic here is more disciplined and the emergency services much better, be ignored? Weighing out both the options, I could only come to one conclusion. Driving, or for that matter, anything else in life is always going to have dangers. What matters is, if you are ready to take the risk and still be in control of the situation. And it is human to make a blunder, so we always have to be prepared for not just our own mistakes, but also take in account the mistakes others could make.

Driving has to be synergistic, otherwise it could only spell disaster, if everyone was to think only of their needs. And if we cannot be responsible enough to wisely enjoy luxuries, maybe we should go back to the times when the only way to reach destinations was by foot or on horse-back. I don't think there were any crashes back then. It would be a good time-out for irresponsible and reckless drivers. We should be made to realize that luxuries come with a pinch of salt, and only responsible people can make the best use of them. Think about it...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Would love to hear your thoughts!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...