I rode in an ambulance yesterday.
I’ve been in a few of these in the last 3 weeks, but yesterday was the first time I had to give directions, so I was paying a bit more attention to the traffic.
It’s remarkable how well Bangalore traffic responds to ambulances. Almost every single person gave way. (Not that this is easy. Merely slowing towards the left isn’t always effective if it ends up blocking the way. Many people were wise enough to give way at the appropriate place, and our flow was not impeded.)
Not everyone gave way, though.
The first was the driver of a small car. (I can’t identify vehicle models. This sort of looked like a Maruti.) He was driving right in front of us for a while, right in the middle of the road, without giving way on either side. After some time, when the road widened, we passed him. I noticed that he was wearing earphones. Based on his body posture, my guess was that he was listening to music — as opposed to speaking on the phone, for example. Clearly, he had not heard the siren nor the horn.
The second was a young girl riding a moped. (Scooty, or something like that.) The road was narrow. There was no chance of overtaking her. She did hear the siren, though, and tried her best to rush ahead of the ambulance. After about half a minute, the road widened again, and she gave way. My guess is that she was under 18, out on a ride in a relatively small and safe road, and had no idea what to do when an ambulance scares her noisily from behind.
The third was a bus driver, though the circumstances were different. The car ahead of us (a call taxi) gave way to the left. The bus was approaching us from the opposite side. The bus stopped right next to the car. Given the width of the road, the ambulance could not pass.
The taxi driver tried to guide the bus driver, telling him that he should move a bit forward to let us pass, but the bus driver (again, a very young chap) seemed frozen. He didn’t (or couldn’t budge). The taxi driver in front of us started his car, moved 50 metres ahead, and let us pass.
The fourth caused the longest delay. A couple riding a bike were ahead of us. The road turned ahead. They tried to give way, skidded, and they fell right in the middle of the road.
The were shaken, but not hurt, thankfully. It took a couple of minutes for them to gather themselves and their vehicle (with assistance from a passerby) and give way. We checked after confirming that they were unhurt.
I’m not sure what to make of this. In every case, the cause for delay ways ignorance. Either not hearing, or not knowing what to do, or not knowing how to do it well. But it’s gladdening that the bulk of Bangalore is both knowledgeable and responsive to the needs of those in ambulances.
But: please don’t endanger yourselves while giving way.