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Taxonomy of Bangalore Drivers

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This scholastic work is a result of time effort and patience lost on Bangalore roads in recent years. However, being the most altruistic soul around, the author gives you liberal rights to distribute this work as you please.

Introduction: If you were living in jungle, it serves your existence very well that you should be able to distinguish between a tiger from hare or may be may be mango from hemlock. On similar lines, when you are living in and driving around, it is in the interest of your survival that you should be able to identify the various types of road creatures and their modes of behavior so that you can plan your offence, defense or escape as required. This work of research aims to provide such insight for a regular person who drives through Bangalore traffic.

For maintaining the clarity, this work is divided by sub-headings of various road vehicles and the psycho and physical characteristics of their drivers. The classifications go in decreasing order of size.
NOTE: This classification is only very broad and only differentiates the major classes. As far as species are considered, each individual driver is one.

Truck drivers: You usually don’t get to see them directly because they sit somewhere at an altitude. You can however identify the cabin crew by a frantically waving hand on the non-driver side. This hand belongs to a crew-member called 'cleaner' and all scholastic efforts till date have failed to decipher the symbolic meaning of these waving. It is however safe to assume that these waving mean 'stay away'. Fortunately the trucks are prohibited from the arterial roads. But you can see them racing each other at 30 kmph and 31 kmph on the ring road. They successfully block the whole width of the road. It is advised that you take them over from left (yes, the wrong side) for, they wont let you pass from the right side anyway. The other advice is to keep away from them.

BMTC Drivers: You can see them from a mile away from the distinguishing color and driving. It can be very dangerous and frustrating to follow a BMTC bus. The bus follows Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and at any instance you can not predict the speed AND the position correctly. One observations that might help the reader is that they always keep right between bus stops and move to left (well, almost) at bus stops. This is the apt opportunity for you to take the bus over and go stuck behind the next one. The drivers can be seen although mostly through the bus's rear view mirror. If you happen to see them directly through their window, be prepared to listen to advice (varies from motherly, fatherly to ultra indecent) for having taken them over in a dangerous fashion. While a normal bus can easily create a road block on any given road, there are special capacity joint-buses (called janTi vaahana) which have an uncanny power of blocking up to 3 roads at a time at a junction.

Cab drivers: Characterized by red eyes, irritable nature, unkempt facial hair, constant honking even at stationary object! They always try to go at 80 kmph, assume the urgency of an ambulance and expect everyone else has less important job. Most of them do not sleep for days together and some of them are trying to compete with David Blain for stretching human limits. The author personally knows few cab drivers who do not have a habitat. They just keep a pair of spare uniform in the cab, eat sleep in the cab and use public bathrooms. Driving style of these indicates that many of them were auto rickshaw driver earlier. However, they still seem to carry the self image of an auto rickshaw and try to squeeze a MUV into the 1 meter gap between any two objects.

Car drivers: characterized by creased foreheads. Having paid through their noses and fighting to pay the EMI, they are obsessive about their cars and want to make sure nobody bumps/scratches their car body. This sits on the mind perpetually and causes those creases on foreheads. Most pitiable class of drivers having the most to lose from the mistakes of other classes of drivers.

Auto rickshaw drivers: Having stood over years as undisputed symbol for rash driving, they are unfortunately losing grounds to cab drivers. (Unfortunate because a rashly driven MUV is more dangerous than a rashly driven auto rickshaw). Auto rickshaws are the vehicles with most diverse speed ranges. They travel at speeds approaching zero when they have no passengers aboard and travel at speed of upto 3x10^8 m/s when a passenger is aboard. Analogous to the belief that "a cat can pass through any hole that is bigger than its skull" auto rickshaws can "pass through any gap that is wider than the headlight". They defy all laws of Physics. A typical auto drive sits with a calm and indifferent attitude of a formula-1 driver just before the race. Based on his age, he is a Rajkumar/Shankarnag/Darshan fan. He feels strongly towards these actors and towards Karnataka and Kannada. In a surprising observation, many auto drivers refuse 1.5 times the meter reading after 10 PM if you are exiting from Ranga Shankara. This is their humble way of commemorating their favorite star who made films like Auto-Raja.

Two wheeler drives: The class in the most advantageous position. They consist of a variety of sub-populations like office goers, salesmen, mothers dropping children to school, college students, neighborhood store owner transporting about 1 ton weight on a moped, whole families of 4-5 children going on an outing etc. They usually mind their own business and do not cause inconvenience to other types of vehicles. They use all possible space on and around the road, including footpaths, medians, drainages, staircases etc and thus enhance infrastructure utilization.

Classification of various other types of vehicles including but not limited to hand carts, bullock carts, horse carts, bicycles, mini trucks, private buses, goods auto rickshaws, tractors, water tankers, garbage trucks, inter-state buses, pilgrimage buses, concrete mixers, sand trucks, driving school cars, mobile advertising kiosks, etc is beyond the scope of this work although there is no doubt that each of them have unique characteristics. The author wishes to conclude with a remark that there is tremendous scope to study to Bangalore traffic further, enhance the underlying pattern and get the best out of it.

More Serious Note: I feel that along with the shear number of vehicles on the road, the diversity of types of vehicles is a huge cause for our traffic woes. With we had a more uniform society and more uniform vehicle population.


[This work originally appeared on my personal blog and then also circulated well through e-mail forwards.] comment guidelines

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