Laws are the basic pillars on which civilizations stand. Since time immemorial, societies are dependent on our sense of self regulation and assessment of what is right and wrong for our selves and others. But just as one bad apple spoils the whole basket, even one individual who places self interest above larger good jeopardizes society at large. Laws are enacted to nip the problem in the bud in the overall interest of societal well being. Driving and traffic laws ensure order on the roads and enable safe passage for all on the streets. Traffic laws are rules of the road which pedestrians and motorists are expected to follow. These laws enable smooth and organized flow of traffic on the roads.
The primary of traffic rules pertains to directionality. In some countries like America, vehicles ply on the right side of the road while others like India require vehicles to keep left. Rules vary across different countries in Europe. Other basic traffic laws pertain to flow of traffic at traffic lights and compliance to traffic signs. Laws are also framed to determine “right of way”, that is who moves first. There are also rules pertaining to the manner in which traffic from side roads will join flowing traffic on the main roads. On roads in general and on highways in particular, one is required to stick to one’s lane and not change the same without adequate indication to fellow drivers. Driving and traffic laws are vital to eliminate confusion and chaos on the roads and get drivers to speak the same language without actually talking to each other.
Driving and traffic laws are like Siamese twins – it is difficult to look at either of them in isolation. Drivers are responsible for smooth traffic flow by following legally enforced driving behaviors. Pedestrians are primary users of roads and should be accorded preferential treatment at all times. Speed limits, both upper and lower, are to be strictly followed and are non-negotiable. Drivers desirous of turning into side lanes should give prior indication using blinkers. Cars that are following the car in question can then respond suitably to the intended action. Specific traffic signs like those indicative of school crossings and animal crossings require special attention. Driving laws also govern specific aspects of driver behavior like driving under influence and honking in silent zones. The use of mobile phones for speaking or texting is expressly prohibited by law in many countries. Dedicated lanes for cyclists and buses have to be recognized and respected.
In addition to laws, road behaviors are also influenced by etiquette and cultural factors. Right of way is not determined only by law. Vehicles driven by disabled persons and ambulances deserve to be shown due consideration. The distance between vehicles and the acceptability of playing loud music in cars is largely a function of what is considered acceptable in the particular country. We need to recognize positively dangerous and careless driving which defies driving and traffic laws, in letter, as also inconsiderate driving which defies these laws, in spirit.