Although Uber drivers are generally well trained, sometimes you are at the mercy of one whose reckless actions put you at risk. I had one such bad experience the other day. Right from the first crossing we came to, I had apprehensions as he parked on the extreme right, obstructing incoming traffic. I did scold him, but it was too late to change lanes, and I had to avoid looking at all the drivers glaring at us.
Ten minutes later, he suddenly swerved into a service lane, without noticing another car coming up from behind. Although a collision was narrowly missed, the driver of the private car stopped and explained to him nicely what he had done wrong. The Uber driver first refused to accept his mistake. But when I joined the conversation, telling him he was in the wrong, he apologised to the other driver.
By now I was on full alert, watching out for the next misdemeanour. As we entered Shanti Path, a long stretch where there is sparse traffic, he speeded up. I warned him that traffic policemen conduct a lot of checks on the road. He did slow down but while I was absorbed in my cellphone there was a loud sound and a sudden impact. I lurched forward on my seat, my knees hitting the back of the front seat hard. It turned out that a bus had braked at a bus stop, and he was caught off guard. It is true that there was only a board for the bus stop, and no shelter, making it less noticeable. But if he had stayed five feet behind, as per rules, this would not have happened.
Fortunately, the bus had only suffered a dent on the bumper and carried on without any altercation. But the cab’s bonnet was damaged. After examining it, the driver informed me that he could not proceed. My knees were hurting but I did not protest, glad to terminate the ride before something worse happened. Although I have only been in two accidents in four years of using Uber, this ride convinced me that there are loopholes in training and the company should make sure that drivers know that there are heavy penalties for disregarding traffic rules.
Manjula Lal is a journalist
As told to Shruti Das
‘Traffic rules aren’t obeyed’
I met with an accident around two years ago when I had to attend a meeting at Kailash Colony.
After deboarding at the Kailash Colony Metro station, I opted for a cycle rickshaw to reach my destination, which was about 15 minutes from the station.
When I got on the rickshaw, I was giving the rickshaw puller directions to the destination. Initially, he was moving at the right pace. But then when we entered a lane with relatively sparse traffic, he started speeding up. I told him not to, so he slowed down a little at first. But then again, he started hurrying.
He was moving at such a breakneck speed that he failed to see an e-rickshaw that was coming from the opposite direction. The e-rickshaw was going in the wrong direction and was also speeding.
They both collided, and I fell off the rickshaw. My head hit the side of e-rickshaw and started bleeding heavily. My bag also fell off on the street. Seeing all this, the rickshaw puller fled. He probably knew it was his fault too – as he was rash driving.
But fortunately, the e-rickshaw driver was helpful. He was at fault too, as he was driving on the wrong side, but at least he was not a coward and tried making up for it by helping me. Also, the passersby helped me.
I was in a semi-conscious state after my head was hit. And there was a lot of blood, which also made me nauseous. Luckily, there was a hospital just five minutes away. So, I was taken there.
Fortunately, I was not hurt that bad. I had four stitches on my forehead and a few injuries here and there. But it could have had a major impact – as it hit my head. The doctor said that I could have got internal injuries but I was lucky enough not to get any.
The accident took place mainly because of the carelessness of both the drivers. But I failed to take any action against them as I was injured, and alone – so there was no one who could have taken any sort of action. This thing, I have seen, is quite common in Delhi. Often, I have witnessed accidents – mostly hit and run cases – where the offender mostly goes unnoticed amid the chaos.
The way vehicles break traffic rules here is seen as normal. Cars or e-rickshaws coming from the wrong side is so common that even traffic police seem to be okay with it. Also, the speeding of cars – especially at night when there’s no police or at areas which are not under scanner – is common.
Even a simple task of crossing the road can become a nightmare in Delhi! The car drivers seem to care less, they seldom stop or slow down to let the pedestrians cross. I have seen senior citizens – especially those who have problem walking – who find it extremely difficult to cross the street and are not helped by anyone.
Being the Capital city, Delhi must improve the ways in which they deal with road safety. Safe commutation is a basic right and the authority must take note of it. Not only for senior citizens, children or disabled – but all citizens deserve a safe journey back home!
Ritika Das is an engineer
As told to Shruti Das