From the Interstate to the ‘free’way
It takes only a single trip by car on the USA Interstate freeways for a person to dread driving on Indian highways. I can now say that this is partly true.My family planned to go to a temple about 140kms away in our car… And its been about 8 years since I had seen that section of highways, much less driven on it. But I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the roads once we had crossed the city limits. With our car’s A/C humming softly to keep the scorching heat outside, I settled my new Santro Xing in to a comfortable, stable 80km/hr drive. The drive took about 2.5 hrs with 3 breaks. I remember going by buses that took about 4 hrs for the same distance.
But it is an entirely different story at night. The ‘freeway’ seems to suffer from lack of visibility of directions. On the way back, we missed 3 detour signs… Simply because they were not visible at all during night! No reflectors, no warning signs… And add to this confusion, count in the unruly drivers with vehicles fit to be thrown in to a recycling barn. No headlights, one or both tail lights broken, drivers who do not know the switch to turn off their high beam… Once we entered the city, it was a nightmare.
One thing which I found conspicuous by its absence is the enforcement of rules by police patrols. And as long as enforcement isn’t carried out well, no matter what the highway infrastructure we get, driving in India will remain a nightmare.