Death wish

Shubhabrata Marmar Updated: May 30, 2014, 04:43 PM IST

My wife sent me a link to a nine minute video off Facebook. Before you watch it, you must understand that this is a poor quality video but an extremely graphic one where I'm convinced a number of the people in the video died. Yes, I'm not even remotely kidding.

The video features footage from cameras placed around one highway intersection and has been edited to show nine minutes of accidents. I'm not sure where this intersection is, but the autorickshaw that comes into the footage suggests that it is in Tamil Nadu.

There are two things that horrified me when watching the video. First, almost every single accident in the video is a stupid, silly avoidable one. Every single last one. Without exception the crashes – most horrific – are caused by an utter lack of patience and respect for the other people who also constitute traffic. I'll come to the second thing in a minute.

accident spot

The intersection itself isn't going to be the magnum opus of whatever civil or traffic engineer dreamt it up, or whatever transport planner contributed to it. One arm of the tee is a downhill sloping curve that makes the approach blind from at least two entries into the intersection for sure.

Which doesn't transfer the blame for the crashes away from the idiots who're dying like flies in the video from terminal stupidity and impatience. There are numerous crashes in there where a car or bus pulls out in the path of an oncoming bus or truck. The sad thing is that there is hardly any traffic at this intersection - it isn't a busy place. And that these accidents all happen where the approach is arrow-straight which means the guy pulling out should be able to see the chap heading at highway speed towards him. These crashes are inexplicable except in the light of a licensing system that doesn't work at all and drivers who are all low-IQ human beings with no sense of self-preservation. Lemmings with driving licences, more like.

But the second thing that really shook me were the two-wheeler guys. They make the car guys look like they belong in Einstein's social circles. The video is a bit grubby but none of them use helmets. No surprise here, Indians are hard-headed and helmets are for us sissies. But the horrifying thing is that I cannot see a single two-wheeler accident in the video – including the ones in which people are horribly injured or die – where the rider wasn't to blame. Not a single one in nine minutes of utter carnage. In every case, if a two-wheeler was involved, the rider started it. In every case, a two-wheeler rider enters the intersection at possibly the least opportune time and proceeds to get runover by buses and trucks, hit by cars...

The issue isn't this video. I've spoken to city bus drivers on occasion as well to truckers on the highway and the feedback is unanimous. They all concur vehemently that while the villagers will always burn the bus or truck, in every single case, it was the two-wheeler borne genius who caused the accident.

You might argue that which truck driver or bus driver would admit to being at fault. I myself have. But after seeing this video, I'm with them. It's the chaps on two-wheelers who have a death wish.

Unfortunately, there is no moral in this story. Just a warning. Mother Nature, as Charles Darwin explained, likes to cull the stupid so that only the smart survive and the eternal cleansing of the gene pool can carry on. Reality is like King Joffrey and it likes to hurt things for no reason. And from what I saw in this video, all it takes to avoid the culling blade is a second look up the road and the merest sprinkle of patience. Surely that's not too much to ask.


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