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The Art of Driving - Colombo’s most inclusive and dangerous sport - Part 1

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Diving…snorkelling…rafting…bungee jumping…wildlife safari rides. These are just a few of the many adventure sports that any traveller may enjoy in the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. Yet, there is one adventure sport played by thousands of Sri Lankans every day, more dangerous than them all – and whether it is enjoyed is a different story.

This is the Art of Driving.

Drive |  /drīv/ | Verb
Operate and control the direction and speed of a motor vehicle.

The operation and control of a motor vehicle’s direction and speed is interpreted and practiced differently - depending on the driver. In that way it is a form of art, unmistakeably – a psychedelic, abstract kind of art.
Like any sport, driving is full of statistics and numbers – but here numbers could mean fatalities, if one does not know how to properly operate and control.

So how does the driver of an average dual purpose motor vehicle stay ahead of the competition (and stay alive)? Well, everyone is taught how to drive safely. There are driving tests and road regulations literature for that. Yet, common sense seems to have taken a back seat over time. We attempt to list out good practices for commuters by looking at the grounds for disqualification. After all, every sport has them.

Mobile phones
A mobile phone is not meant to be caressed, cradled, or balanced (depending on the associated body part – hand, shoulder or lap) whilst driving. Sure, we all get the call from the impatient spouse or furious boss, and we know that unless we answer we are asking for trouble. driving while using mobile phones

Yet, trouble of the life threatening kind always finds the commuter who pays more attention to speaking to someone over the mobile phone than driving. A lapse in concentration can mean running a red light (resulting in a fine, or worse, an accident). A quick look at a screen can mean complete ignorance of a pedestrian darting across the road (and we all know how pedestrians dart across our roads) Typing a message may render the commuter unable to take a quick turn where needed (resulting in the car landing in a ditch, or crashing through a parapet wall – and the icing on the cake is that the message wouldn’t have been sent either).

So in short, it is more of a lose – lose situation. And when one option leads to loss of life, it is probably wiser to take the other.

Red Lights
Running a red light is not a great accomplishment, however much joyriding yuppies may think it is. Rather, it is grounds for a hefty fine and/or removal of one’s license. But running a red light is too generic a phrase. street traffic lights
There’s ‘racing on Amber’, which refers to the rather impatient driver that sees the light change from Red to Amber, and sees it as his cue to accelerate past the intersection.  Of equal disrepute is the ‘beat the Red’, where the driver, moving at a high speed, approaches a Green traffic light, and afraid of the looming Red, increases his speed in an attempt to beat the Red and beat it legally.

The good news and bad news, whether embarking on ‘racing on Amber’ or ‘beat the Red’ is quite simple and in both cases similar.

The good news is one’s destination will be reached about ten seconds before the rest of the traffic. The bad news is that an impatient, likeminded road-hog approaching from elsewhere will not know that a vehicle is hurtling towards them. Operating and controlling a motor vehicle with seconds to spare becomes messy. In this case, if birds of a feather flock together, it can mean a rather nasty accident.

Headlights and signals
It is a perplexing point for anyone with common sense, as to why headlights and signal lights are not used.
So many questions arise. Why does the three-wheeler in front of me suddenly swerve to a side and stop? Are his signal lights in want of repair?

Why does the owner of the bike in front of me, carrying a child, wish to remain as black as the night, like Batman? Do his headlights need repair?

Changing lanes, anticipating a roadside stop and turning off the road are some examples of scenarios where using signal lights are warranted, even appreciated. And it is pure common sense to have your headlights on when dusk falls.

more on The Art of Driving to be continued....


Written by ashan.j for colomboguide.net ©


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