From the beginning of this year there have been quite a few fatal car accidents in South Australia alone (12 people dead as of 19 January which is high for this time of year). The year started with four people killed not far from where I was at Maitland on New Year’s Day. It was a wet day and at a guess someone came around the curve too fast and ended up on the other side of the road in the oncoming car’s path.
Then about two weeks ago there was a bus crash in Egypt that claimed the lives of six Australians and there are differing reports as to why the bus crashed. Initially it was said that the driver swerved to avoid something and because the road was wet the bus rolled. I also read last week that the driver may have fallen asleep at the wheel momentarily.
Reading this reminded me of being on buses in India. If you catch a bus in India you are risking your life in many cases. When we were in India we didn’t catch the bus that often and the last bus trip we did became the last bus trip because the driver was drinking home-made whisky out of a bottle during the journey and overtaking on hills and corners. Even with the valium I’d procured especially for that journey I still prayed that we would make it in one piece. We did.
After that we thought we’d catch a plane because it would be quicker and hopefully safer but the seat on the Air India plane I was assigned to was obviously defective so I moved. Luckily it was only a one hour flight and we didn’t have too much time to think about crashing.
One of the first bus trips we did was a local and quite short trip where we sat on top of the bus. Inside the bus was really packed and we thought, why not, let’s do it. We paid 2 rupees for someone to haul our backpacks to the top of the bus then we climbed up also. An Indian man sitting near us told us when to duck to avoid overhanging tree branches. This would have been the most pleasant bus trip we took because we didn’t have to put up with the dreadful Indian music that was played on most other buses that music via headphones from a Walkman wouldn’t even drown out.
With a bus trip not long after this one I found out why there were two metal bars running along each side of many buses we saw. Another bus overtook us and got too close so we side-swiped each other. It was nothing serious and nobody was injured. Both the buses stopped along the side of the road and a fight between the bus drivers and hangers on ensued. I asked another passenger why they were arguing and he said that the other bus driver was accusing ours of being rash. I couldn’t quite understand this as it was the other bus that was overtaking us, so if anyone was being rash it was him.
We were there for some time while the bus drivers, and anyone else who wanted an argument, yelled at each other about the incident but at least we got to say hallo to some kids nearby who allowed us to take this photo. Indians seem to love having their photo taken and they love taking photos. Even to the point of standing behind two people sunbathing on a beach while their mate takes a photo of all of us.
We were lucky we escaped this one and other bus trips we took in India with just some nerves and time lost, and not our lives or serious injury. I think the man who told me the bus driver had been rash was correct about drivers in general. Many drivers are very rash, and don’t consider the conditions under which they drive, or other drivers out on the road who want to make it to their destination safely.
The media and the police do reiterate time and time again about adjusting your driving for the conditions your travelling in, not to speed, not to drive while tired, and not to drink drive but still people persist in doing this. I think once some people get behind the wheel of a vehicle, the rational part of their brain goes and the ‘I must get there and get there as quickly as possible’ part takes over.