Hello friends, while this title may sound weird or even surprising – for me it’s scary. I clearly remember the day and the horror that ensued because of YouTube. It started off with me hiring an OLA Auto from home.
Destination: Nerul (my workplace)
Fare: doesn’t matter now
Driver: Faishalam Khan
Charge(s): Watching YouTube while driving
I guess this is rampant across most auto drivers, these days. The process is simple. Once the ride starts (especially if it’s a long one) the driver drives carefully for a few kilometers. Once you’ve escaped from the traffic and narrow roads, you hit the highway (depending on your route). That is when they switch over to YouTube. Now, this goes undetected most of the time since we (gullible passengers) believe the driver is using the Google Navigation app.
YouTube usage becomes obvious under the following situations:
- The driver speeds, clearly oblivious of potholes, speed-breakers and other road-based obstructions
- He appears to drive with undivided attention (actually to the phone screen and not the road)
- He misses important turns and blames it on the app (commonsense tip: how can your navigation be different from mine?) (Explained ahead – read on)
- His head barely moves to the left or right
- He does not speak at all
- He has earphone plugged into one or both ears – but isn’t talking (another concern that pisses me off)
- The last indication – you’re hit by another vehicle (obviously!!!)
I missed most of these signs at the beginning of the ride. However, after hitting the highway and him missing two important turns – I smelled a rat. Then I started paying attention to his facial expressions (Man! I have hawk-eyes for such situations).
Here’s how I figured the flaw: How can my navigation be different from yours? If I start from point A and have to reach point B – Google Maps will show me different options. Once I choose the shortest distance and press start navigation I try to match the auto driver’s navigation. If it is the same for the first few kilometers – it will be the same until the end. If you miss a turn – you were probably not looking at the screen. Now, if you miss one important turn after another – you were definitely not looking at your screen. That’s exactly what I figured.
It doesn’t stop here. I thereby activated my James Bond mode. Then I fixed my stare at his face. While most auto drivers have their mirrors adjusted to see the passenger – this one did not do that. Now, he can’t see my face, I can’t see his face either (simple physics).
Then I leaned forward and looked at his phone screen and there he was – watching YouTube with the phone in portrait mode. I didn’t want to yell at him. So I waited for him to miss another turn or at least speed over a speed-breaker. But what happened – shook me up. Shortly after I caught him watching YouTube, another auto coming from the left (at an intersection) – almost rammed into us. He was speeding too – but he had the right-of-way. This is when I finally had to yell at my driver. Startled, he jammed the brakes and brought the ride to a screeching halt. The other auto driver sped away hurling abuses (which my driver rightfully deserved). I had to give my driver a piece of my mind – and I did just that.
Then I did what the radio cab app suggests – press the EMERGENCY button. Within five minutes, I got a call from OLA asking me to describe the emergency. After I did that – they asked me if I was safe – to which I replied in the affirmative. They asked me if the driver is still doing what I had complained about (watching YouTube while riding) – negative. He wasn’t (if he did – I’d slap the shit out of him). Finally, they asked me if I wanted a different ride or was okay to continue the same ride – I chose option B since I was almost near my office.
This incident opened proved to be an eye-opener to me. I can never ride a radio auto again the way I did earlier – oblivious of surroundings. My senses will now always be on high alert till I disembark the ride. This is not the case when one takes a cab – because then – the driver’s phone is in plain sight and you can see the screen easily. No sleuthing skills required. The problem is only with autos. The lousy lot they already are – I refuse to let their carelessness jeopardize my life.
So, the next time you are in an auto – watch out for the aforesaid signs and save your life. Unless you are careful, the driver will ‘take you for a ride’.