(This story was originally published on 14 November 2017 and is being republished from The Quint’s archives in the context of the Delhi air pollution crisis in November 2019.)
The smog is back and the authorities are busy grappling with a solution to deal with the terrible air quality (#pollutionkasolution). However, not only is the smog playing havoc with people’s lungs, it’s also causing major pile-ups on the highways around the Delhi-NCR region.
Who is to blame for the crashes? Is it only errant drivers or are car-makers partly to blame? Well, it’s both.
Here are some of the key reasons why these pile-ups happen.
One, many of the trucks that ply on the highway have non-functional tail lamps. These are bad enough on regular days, but become almost invisible on foggy days. Many times, a pile-up is caused by a truck parked in the wrong lane with non-functional tail lamps.
Two, not many cars come with rear fog lamps. Some of the European brands have them as standard fitment, though. Rear fog lamps are bright red lights that can be seen from a distance, especially in fog. They are much brighter than regular tail lamps and are a key safety features of cars.
Sadly, some of the Japanese and Korean brands that used to offer rear fog lamps as standard fitment on their cars have now removed them from their latest models. Why? These are basic safety features and should be offered on all cars along with airbags, ABS and seat belts.
Unfortunately, not many drivers know how to use them. They end up using rear fog lamps on clear days, dazzling drivers behind them. Others have never bothered with it and hence manufacturers see them as non-essential features.
And then there’s plain ignorance and indiscipline among drivers. A Save Life Foundation survey shows that 59% of Indian drivers have not taken a driving test to get their licences. It’s small wonder that India accounts for the highest number of road accident deaths in the world!
It’s time to act. Now.
Video Editor: Ashish Maccune
Cameraperson: Abhay Sharma