Have you ever wondered why the used cars in Japan are in much better condition than even the new cars in Pakistan? Well here is the real reason.
About ten years back I had the opportunity to visit Japan and one of the things that I noticed was that there were hardly any automobiles which had dents or had been repainted. Whereas here in Pakistan you see brand new automobiles with dents and portions of the body repainted. I believe that the two major reasons for this is poorly designed and maintained road infrastructure, and drivers who only know how to drive but are not aware of safe driving practices.
I asked one of the Japanese hosts about the lack of banged up automobiles. He explained that the reason for this (besides the good roads) was that before getting a driver’s license the learner had to understand the functions of the whole car besides simply learning to drive. They had to be aware about the workings of the engine, transmission, chassis, brakes, tyres, etc not just how to refuel the automobile and push the throttle. The learner had to know about driving safely and what the road signs meant. Because of this the accident rates in Japan are one of the lowest in the world. In the case of Pakistan the opposite is true and many innocent lives are lost every year.
However, it is gratifying to note that there are many people who are taking driving lessons from driving schools. It is hoped that these in turn have passed qualifying tests themselves. If we guestimate the number of drivers who have received drivers’ training in the military or from driving schools, these would not amount to more than 50% of the drivers on the roads. How the remaining drivers have got their licenses is a well-known fact that does not need mentioning.
For those living in Rawalpindi and driving down the Mall, you might have noticed vehicles coming up Murree Road and turning on to the Mall, even when the traffic light is “red”, without bothering to look right. The drivers (mostly Suzuki drivers) then very calmly start moving to the right to make the right turn up ahead near the PC Hotel. They are least bothered that the traffic coming from the GPO Chowk (which in this case has the right of way) would be disturbed.
Some of you must be wondering why am I so concerned. The reason is that already we have so many bad drivers, bad roads and bad mannered road users. If something is not done urgently driving will become terrifying and expensive. As most of you maybe aware the number of new automobiles is growing by over 6% a year. If driving is bad today, it will be worse tomorrow.