Apr 26, 2007

Saving Lives

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (a part of the US Department of Transportation) recently mandated Electronic Stability Control systems in all passennger vehicles. The move, which is touted to be a landmark ruling along with the likes of mandatory seat belts and Anti-Lock Braking systems in vehicles, has the potential to save thousands of lives every year.
This is in stark contrast to India, where not much mandates (In fact I hardly know of any) are passed to ensure that automobile manufacturers build vehicles with passenger safety utmost in their minds. Passing a mandate is one story, but enforcing it is another.

Today I was thinking that the American vehicle manfacturers have left no stones unturned on the safety aspect, when two 'trivial' things, which have bothered me in the past, came up. One was the turning indicators. I have observed that predominantly in all American cars, both the braking lights and the turinng indicator lights are of the same colour - Red. Imagine that you are driving on a highway (or any other road for that matter) for more than an hour. Naturallyyou are bound to be fatigued (especially at night because of the shrouding darkness). Lets assume that a vehicle in front of you is about to take a turn and the driver turns on the indicator lights and slows down or maybe even halts. The braking lights will be glowing bright and the indicator lights will be blinking. There is zero contrast between the two, other than a blinking section of the lights.Probably you would have noticed that under such conditions you react a bit more late than you ever normally do. I believe this is due to both braking and indicator lights being of the same color. As far as I can recollect, in Indian cars the indicator lights are yellow in color (inspired by the Japanese cars I guess). In an accident, where even milli seconds count, these small things could be crucial.

I have also noticed that none of the American cars have the rubber 'mud flaps' that dangle freely behind the rear wheels on all Indian cars (Trucks have these though). Today I was driving in the highway and all cars in front of me generously spewed rain water from the roads onto my car's windwshield, making it quite difficult to see the road. This is more pronounced when you are quite close to the car in front. This might prevent us from seeing the traffic slowing down in front of us in time, or we might fail to notice something lying on the road.
These are just small things but could be having a huge bearing on traffic safety considering the high speeds of driving in the US. I wonder how many lives could have been saved by having yellow colored indicator lights and rubber pads behind rear wheels.


Filarial April 27, 2007 at 7:02:00 PM EDT  

both of which are not needed here exept for desi drivers.. for the first case u shouldnt be braking at all but slowing down a mile before the exit and changing lanes.. and in the second case u shld be following the three second rule..:P

Santhosh C April 28, 2007 at 9:02:00 AM EDT  

I suppose that you still believe in utopia where all these things happen..
and then again, maybe you never happened to be tail gated by a blonde talking on her phone...none of what you say happen here...
slowing down a mile indeed!!! i just imagined how it would be if i do that with traffic behind me :)

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