Holidays are not conducive to cribbing. While you’re on your vacation, those around you expect only sunshine and happiness from you and once you’re back at work you lose all rights to grief because you’ve just had a vacation.
So there’s a month’s pent- up faultfinding to purge. I have a whole list — the state of the Delhi Science Museum, the missing dividers along the Ring Road, the lack of parking etiquette, the slow state of the Metro, I could go on. But for the sake of coherence (and word count limitations) I’ll stick to the one thing that continues to give me nightmares. Red flagged trucks.
No, they’re not Marxist trucks. These monsters look like any other truck, but their drivers are a hundred times more irresponsible than those who drink/speed/crash on highways. These guys load their trucks with long rods or logs of wood or construction material that juts a long way out of the truck’s rear end and then, in an ever-so-considerate move, they hang a little red rag or a dirty white one at the tip of the longest rod.
This flag is meant to work as a stop sign and alarm bell at the same time. Luckily, on a well-lit road or a starry night, this Neanderthal technique seems to work. At least all those speeding-zipping drivers in front of me always manage to swerve just in time. But I can’t help wondering what will happen when the winter fog really sets in. Drivers will then see only the blinkers of the truck, and that too as hazy red dots in the blurry distance. The flag signaling the dangerous four feet protrusion may not be visible — and God help you if you’re behind the truck.
The head constable, who answered the traffic police help line, informed me that trucks are required to hang “anything that shines” — and the cloth is acceptable as bling. However, according to a senior Delhi Police official a light and a cloth is mandatory in such situations and it is a chalaanable offense not to have them.
I went through the Offence and Penal section on the Traffic Police website, and though I couldn’t find a clause that said, ‘Driving with protruding logs without hazard lights’, I did find two clauses that could work: Driving Without Light (After Sunset)- Rs 100 and Driving Dangerously (1st offense)- Rs 1000. Use these and record a complaint the next you spot a Red Flagged Truck — it’s a life threatening offense.