Today, while rushing from Greater Noida to Noida to meet someone in a client company, someone hit my car. It was a small dent in the rear bumper, while negotiating the treacherous circle in Pari Chowk. While I would like to say it wasn’t my fault, it actually was: I had no business going that route when I could have taken a different one, I had no right to try and go straight through when most of the traffic was trying to go on the expressway, and of course I shouldn’t have chosen 9:45 am as the time to pass through that area, when it is the clumsiest (since most people, like me, are rushing to an appointment they are late for – expressways give you a false sense of security that you can make up for any delays!).
Interesting thing was what happened after it. I heard the thud, when a red Maruti assumed I would turn towards expressway and I went straight, and hit my car from right side. First thought that crossed my mind was that I may be delayed for the meeting. Second thought was a perennial thought: what is the expected (and realistic) thing to do when you get hit, should I ignore and proceed, stop and shout, call traffic police, or something else? When I looked at the driver of that car, he seemed to be muttering something, seemed a little angry too. I was in the middle of a mini-jam, so stopping would have meant a bigger jam. After a moment of hesitation, the other driver continued to drive and raced towards expressway, staring at me all the while as if I caused the accident. An auto driver continued to look at me and smile. I had no choice but continue to drive out of that circle, wondering about the extent of the damage. I stopped 100 meters ahead to inspect the damage. It wasn’t much, but very visible and very red (since the other car was red).
As luck would have it, a few days later, very close to the same place, an auto grazed me while trying to overtake from left, causing another dent. He didn’t bother to slow down or check what happened, he continued on.
When I put myself in their shoes (the auto driver and the car driver), I understand their reaction: there isn’t much to do in these cases – you are too cynical of traffic police to call them (or attract their attention), insurance is not an issue most of the time because you are fine carrying such bruises on your car, you are not sure what the other person would do – he might be a goon with a gun or knife, or a hot-headed guy who thinks all problems are solved by shouting and hurling abuses. Given such a gloomy outlook, safest bet is to ignore and move on, wish that the damage wasn’t large, and hope that the other guy takes the incident in the same way.
This may very well be the best approach when the accidents are minor, but such a response may be problematic when they are major. However, responses stay the same – we are too cynical of police (rightfully so maybe), we are too wary of the other guy, and we are too afraid of the possible outcomes.