December 2012

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31          

Blogs & Sites We Read

Blog powered by Typepad

Search Site

  • Search Site



  • Counter

Become a Fan

Cat Quote

  • "He who dislikes the cat, was in his former life, a rat."

« Sanctioned Foods and Forbidden City | Main | Nelson Mandela - R.I.P.? »

September 24, 2007


Knowing how to drive, knowing the rules (i.e., the laws, the Vehicle Code here in California, for instance), and knowing how to comply with the rules are not coterminous skills. I confess I can be obsessive about the sacred inviolability of some rules, full stops at stop signs, for instance. I won't tolerate people who blithely breeze through stop signs, even when there is no risk of injury. I'm thinking this is because it indicates a possible ignorance of how to drive, an insensitivity to the fact that others share the road. On the other hand, I'm all for certain kinds of speeding, because done right it exhibits one's total awareness of the field of navigation.

I am also opposed to the misunderstood notion of defensive driving. It is not the same thing as timorous driving, which must surely be among the most dangerous sorts, short only of driving with one's eyes closed. Again, plodding along and whistling a happy tune (or, worse, gabbing blandly into a cell phone) with air-headed indifference to other drivers is...gauche.

I have a hypothesis which posits a direct relationship between proximity to a major research university and average (driver) IQ. I have "tested" this hypothesis in Westwood near UCLA and here in Berkeley, and I think it's viable. This is so not merely because there are lots of wacky young students in the neighborhood. There are also lots of wacky old emeriti navigating on auto-pilot.

I wish I could remember enough of the details of stories told to me by a friend who worked for California's DMV as the person who tests folks seeking to obtain or renew their licenses. One had to do with accompanying a timorous driver through an intersection that had been blocked off by a rent-a-cop making way for a funeral cortege. As they reached the middle of the intersection, a procession of Harley Davidson hogs in a memorial for a fallen Hell's Angel surrounded and circled the car for several minutes. At the time, it must have been a frightening prospect, but as cultural narrative, it's a precious tale.

(An ironic aspect of the fact of my friend's career at DMV is that when we first acquired our driver's licenses in the mid-'70s, he made fun of me for driving precisely according to the lines in the road. If the line curved a bit, I'd curve a bit--so he claimed--when most folks would just approximate the adjustment in the road, a.k.a., cut the corner. I was, perhaps, too closely following the rule.)

I experienced the flip side of this when I was in India visiting my parents. I sat next to my dad on the passenger seat, and I could not handle viewing the traffic from the front seat and the excessive beeping of the horn. :)
I promptly shifted to the back seat, and my brother and I did convince our dad to use the horn less sparingly, and it worked - at least for the time I was there.

Now only if we can get the drivers in the US to be more aware of us bicyclists and not "door" us!!

I ride my bike on quiet suburban streets without too many hairy moments. I also use sidewalks and trails rather than the main streets. It is true that bicyclists and other two wheelers get a raw deal on US roads - mostly due to "omission" than "commission," I suspect. My husband occasionally rides a motorcycle. He swears that at four-way stop signs, drivers (mostly women, according to him!) actually don't see him.

I know what you mean about Houston! Live there, drive there...navigating the famous Hillcroft is a skill!

Which is why Indians never have problems driving on the 'wrong side' when in the US -- they drive on both sides when in India.

Much of the world wide web is full of sarcasm & mocking of driving on Indian roads.

This site has been created with the purpose of providing driver education and training rather than criticism.

At present I have produced and made available 17 driver education videos aimed at changing the driving culture on Indian roads are available. To watch the videos, please visit:

The videos cover the following topics:

Video 1: Covers the concept of Blind spots
Video 2: Introduces the principle of Mirrors, Signal and Manoeuvre
Video 3: At red lights, stop behind the stop line
Video 4: At red lights there are no free left turns
Video 5: The Zebra belongs to pedestrians
Video 6: Tyres and Tarmac (rather than bumper to bumper)
Video 7: Merging with the Main road
Video 8: Leaving The Main Road
Video 9: Never Cut Corners
Video 10: Show Courtesy on roads
Video 11: 5 Rules that help deal with Roundabouts
Video 12: Speed limits, stopping distances, tailgating & 2 seconds rule
Video 13: Lane discipline and overtaking
Video 14: Low beam or high beam?
Video 15: Parallel (reverse parking) made easy
Video 16: Give the cyclist the respect of a car
Video 17: Dealing with in-car condensation

Many thanks

The comments to this entry are closed.