Why A Racetrack In Every City Can Improve India’s Road Safety

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There are so many reasons why driving in India is so dangerous, and these include our licensing system that puts millions on the road without proper training, and the general lack of road sense and respect for the law by so many road users.

It's time for the country to pool its ideas together and improve the situation, and it's good to see action finally being planned in this regard by those in power. But the fact remains, several bad accidents often happen because one is going too fast for that particular road situation. So what can we do about this?

It's a common occurrence to see people speeding on city roads and driving unsafely at high speeds on our highways, putting other innocent motorists in danger. We see phrases "Speed Thrills But Kills" dotted along our roads, but those signs have begun to rust away, in our heads too. So how about our cities getting safe areas where we can drive fast, like a race track?

We might have a car or motorcycle, but there's nowhere to enjoy the driving or riding experience, except on our choked roads. When there's no place to let off steam (or rubber), people will get frustrated and take out their unsafe driving intentions on public roads. Bikers come at speed from all directions and the driver in the next car always wants to stay ahead of you, no matter at what cost. It's a fact. People want to drive fast. So why not give us a dedicated space?

In a small geographic area like Europe, there are easily more than 70 race tracks that host everything from weekend races for amateurs to Formula One. These circuits are extremely popular and attract not just racers with deep pockets, but your average-Joe speed enthusiasts in regular road cars as well. It's a great way to have fun safely, since the risk of driving at speed on public roads is taken out of the picture, with everyone out there just to have a good time.

What India could do is have at least one small, but well-designed racetrack for every town and city, where upon obtaining a valid motorsport license, people can hire out the track and organise races that could be anything from one-make series, to manufacturer versus manufacturer championships that should be made affordable to anyone that owns a car or motorcycle. Imagine the interest for a Bajaj Pulsar series or a Maruti Alto championship! Of course, people should be allowed to race only after some training of racing dos and don'ts. But let's try and get organised motorsport into the hearts of a bigger audience.

Picture credit: Tanmay via Wiki Commons

Race days can be clubbed with road safety programs that promote awareness about the dangers of racing and driving rashly on public roads, perhaps with the help of local celebrities and the such. With people now able to drive fast safely, they might take pride in their cars and their driving, and have a reason to slow down and improve their driving etiquette. This can happen through something like an advanced driving course which could be a prerequisite to being allowed to drive on track.

Why is India not very big on F1? It's probably because it is so inaccessible—just attending the inaugural race as a spectator at Buddh was expensive. However, if people can register for track racing for say, a maximum of Rs. 1000 for motorcycles and Rs. 2000 for cars, these easy-to-enter events could generate a lot of interest. And importantly, promote the joy of safe driving. And we need not stop only with bikes and cars, let's have three-wheeler and commercial vehicle events as well. The more accessible motorsport is, the more people we can make smile, and the more positive the change can be. We need to save thousands of precious lives, so let's try everything.

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Story first published: Tuesday, December 2, 2014, 14:47 [IST]
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