Saturday, December 20, 2008

Note to Karachi Drivers

When you hear an ambulance wailing somewhere behind you, please, please don't just continue to sit at the red light. When a man is having a heart attack or a woman a stroke in the ambulance behind you, the traffic laws are temporarily held in abeyance for that person's life. So people when you hear an ambulance, make way for it, break lights to clear the path for it or stop even if your light is green so that the ambulance on the other road can go past.

In case you were not aware of this before, please know that not only is it okay to disobey traffic laws to let an ambulance pass, it is in fact required, ethically and (hopefully) legally too.

Just now, I had to wait for two painful minutes at the Teen Talwar signal with an ambulance behind me desperate to drive through. But there were dozens of cars ahead of us that just would not break the light. All of a sudden, the usually cavalier drivers of Karachi turned into stubborn traffic light observers. They sat there oblivious to the ambulance siren and the honks of several conscientious drivers and moved only when the light turned green. Of course, the ever present traffic police did nothing either. They were busy fleecing some poor motorcyclist in a corner.

As the ambulance whizzed past, I saw the face of an extremely worried young boy inside and I could only hope that his relative lying there next to him would make it to the hospital in time. If that person does survive, it certainly won't be thanks to any of us at the Teen Talwar signal, but if that person doesn't make it, their death will certainly be on all our hands.

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