Cause for Concern on the Roads

Over the last 3-4 months I’ve started noticing something very worrying on the roads of Delhi and NCR.

This is that more and more vehicles, especially taxis, are sporting new ‘hardware’ on front and back – I’m referring to what is known in England as ‘cattle bars’, elsewhere as ‘bull bars’ (and in Australia as ‘Roo bars’. These have their origins in rural and countryside areas of those countries where the risk of a collision with a large wild animal is a real, dangerous possibility.

However, there’s the problem. In an urban environment where vehicles keep coming in contact with each other on a regular basis they are being used to serve a different purpose. Just last week my right front bumper acquired a new scar with an auto rickshaw nipping through a gap that didn’t exist at a roundabout. As metal scraped metal I screamed, but was just met with a shrug as he whizzed away.

Now, these taxi owners think they’re very clever. They know they employ people who essentially cannot drive and have no sense of ‘road etiquette’. Now, in future, when a taxi’s cattle bar comes in contact with my car it will be a completely one-sided battle. His steel bar will perforate and smash my car, while the taxi’s bodywork will remain untouched. Now, expect taxi drivers to drive even more irresponsibly.

However, it’s not my bodywork that I fear for – it’s pedestrians.

Wikipedia – Bullbars with Links

When a sedan car hits a pedestrian in urban conditions at modest speed, the pedestrian usually rolls on to the bonnet of the car, sometimes over the roof. The net effect is that the full impact of the collision is dissipated and the person suffers minimal or modest injuries. However, as soon as the car has one or more cattle bars the whole equation changes. The results will be that the person won’t ‘roll’, but instead will incur far worse injuries and far more often death.

The reality is that these bars are a menace. If the law in the country doesn’t already have provisions to protect pedestrians then this is a situation to be addressed urgently.

At the same time, I want to put in a plea to ban dangerous ornamentation on the hoods of cars, including flags, spikes etc. Let’s not treat this as something we don’t need to care about because pedestrians tend to be poorer people from lower social strata, while the rich don’t ever walk anywhere, cocooned within their killing machines. Are we that heartless?

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