Snapshot – Car penetration in India is about 15 cars per thousand people and India is a thickly populated nation with its population living in clusters across cities, towns and villages. The thick population of the country also means that a lot of people walk on the roads, or in other words are pedestrians.
In fact, many tourists arriving from western countries remark that they’ve never witnessed so many people on the roads. As a driver, the large number of pedestrians on the road is a major factor that you need to watch out for, lest you mow one down. CarToq lists out 5 Driver Safety Tips to avoid pedestrian accidents.
Pedestrians don’t cross only at Zebra crossings
Get this fact clear and drilled into your mind, especially if you’re a beginner driver. Pedestrians in India cross the road from wherever they feel like. Consequently, the Zebra crossing isn’t the only place where pedestrians choose to cross the road. So, staying in a state of alertness at all times is essential and this is something that goes without saying. You also need to watch out for pedestrians’ body languages. When someone is standing on the footpath looking towards the other end of the street, there’s a fat chance that she or he would cross the road. So, begin observing pedestrians when you spot them. Tunnel vision is great for race tracks or the drag strip, not so for Indian roads.
If you see a stationary bus ahead of you, slow down and scan
Stationary buses on the left side of the street usually mean people alighting or dismounting. The folks alighting from the front doors of the bus usually move in front of the bus to cross the road, which also means that you cannot spot them easily. While passing a stationary busy, slow down and scan the underside of the bus for movement of feet. Pedestrians if any can be spotted in this manner. Also, it is a good idea to maintain plenty of distance, perhaps leave a lane free between your car and the stationary bus to give you enough space to react in case a pedestrian just pops up from the front of the bus.
Lunch Breaks, Office Timings and office complexes
Lunch breaks and office timings in and around office complexes usually see a deluge of pedestrians crossing the street. These pedestrians are notorious for their hurry to get somewhere. The key is slowing down when you come across an office complex, more so during the peak morning and evening hours, and lunch breaks.
If one crosses the road, the others usually follow
Picture this. You are driving on the ring road which has a heavy traffic flow. A bunch of pedestrians straggling the median spot a gap in traffic and one of them crosses the road. This usually results in the others of the bunch following the leader even as the gap in traffic gets smaller and smaller. Such behavior of the pedestrians makes them very vulnerable to getting hit by a vehicle as the group relies on a judgment of one individual who has already crossed the road, albeit in circumstances than can suddenly seem different. Your rule? Stay on high alert if you spot a bunch of pedestrians standing on the median.
Pedestrians who are stuck crossing the road
In a continuation of the above scenario, consider that a bunch of pedestrians are crossing the road and most of them manage to make it to the other end of the road leaving one or two stuck perilously onto the path of oncoming traffic or in other words, bang in the middle of the road. What do you do? Braking hard is an option that you should consider if you are too close for comfort. A rear end collision and claiming insurance is way better than using your insurance for medical treatment of a pedestrian or in the worst case, distributing insurance damages after causing a death. Do not honk excessively or flash, for the stuck pedestrian(s) will only panic further.
If you see a ball, a plaything or even a pet coming flying down the road, tread cautiously
A ball, plaything or a pet coming onto the street means that a kid or a few kids won’t be far behind. So, spotting these objects on the road should put you on heavy alert, for driving over the ball or plaything is acceptable, not so on the kids who follow.
Watch out for morning walkers/joggers in the most unexpected places
India has pathetic sports infrastructure and for that matter public parks where joggers and walkers can exercise in peace. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that many of their ilk use the road as a walking/jogging area. For instance, we found an elderly couple happily indulging in their morning walk on a flyover and a similar couple was doing so on a the run off area of a three lane highway. Watching out for these people is critical as the pre-dawn/twilight hours make visibility particularly poor.
When necessary, honk and flash liberally
Honking and flashing liberally on Indian roads is a good thing. You don’t just flash to overtake, you also flash if you spot a pedestrian on the road to tell her/him that you are approaching and at a fairly high clip. Honking well in advance, while approaching a bunch of pedestrians straggling the flanks of the road will alert them suitably. The key here is ensuring that the pedestrians have spotted your car approaching. That is half the job well done.
While driving at night, keep an eye out for folks on the medians
Folks on the medians or on the edges of medians on a road which has an oncoming lane of traffic are almost visible when the vehicles are driving with their lights turned on. Your best best is to avoid driving on the edge of the road and if you should have to do so, maintain a slower pace than usual to compensate for sudden surprises, read pedestrians, who may dart ahead of you.
Know your car’s blind spots and work around them accordingly
Blind sports are a problem on many modern day cars, especially on the A-Pillar. Chunky two piece A-Pillars make spotting pedestrians on your flanks particularly difficult and this has often led to many accidents caused mainly due to impaired vision of the driver. In fact some car makers are actually working to make transparent A-Pillars. While such a leap in technology will take a while to filter down to everyday cars, knowing your car’s blind spot and ccordingly working around them will help you avoid pedestrian accidents. Cars with prominent blind spots caused by their A-Pillars include the Fiat Punto and Linea, Maruti Suzuki SX4, and the Ford EcoSport and the Fiesta, to name just a few.