Can IVMS Hit 2 Targets with One Stone?

Automating the Driver’s License Issue/Renewal and making our roads safer.

Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-10-23,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-Y

Everyone deserves a safe environment – be it inside our house, our work or even the road. Given that after our home and workplace, the third largest pie is most likely to be the roads, where we spend considerable amount of time through our daily commuting or traveling for other purposes, it is imperative that ensuring road safety goes long way into creating a safer society.

Being a data analytics professional, I tend to think how this field can help create a better society overall. And being a driving enthusiast, linking the two wasn’t a long shot.

What is wrong with the existing system of driver’s license issue/renewal?
The most obvious reason to automate anything is to eliminate human intervention. Removing human intervention is not only required to reduce unnecessary human effort utilization but also to remove subjectivity as well as corruption from the entire process. Secondly, the existing process depends on testing the driver for just one day for a few kilometers and deciding whether the driver is a safe driver for the next 5-10 years. While this system has been going on since long but doesn’t mean it is right.
Also, the current system of penalizing drivers is only based on violations (that too, if the violation is caught) or accidents. Also, in most of the cases, once the drivers clear the road test, they start thinking of themselves as James Bond and go back to their own unsafe driving habits – over-speeding, tailgating, lane cutting, suddenly accelerating/decelerating, not providing signals while turning or changing lanes and more.

How IVMS (In-Vehicle Monitoring System) Changes Things?
IVMS is not such a new concept. Largely based on “black box technology” used in the aviation, it is now finding applications in automobiles as well with some use cases such as that of Shell Global.
To begin with, I see it is possible to automate issue and renewal of the drivers license based on the data provided by these monitoring systems installed into the cars of the drivers. Based on the data collected on driver’s driving habits over the entire period of time and applying suitable algorithms, the system will determine whether a particular driver is a safe driver or not. These systems can also be used to downgrade a driver’s license category if the driver fails to maintain the driving standards. This will essentially ensure that the drivers follow the rules irrespective of whether there is a police car or not. It can essentially eliminate rash driving, unless the driver isn’t really worried about losing the license.

What can be under monitor?

Acceleration Rates
Smooth accelerations gives greater control to the driver over the vehicle and also the vehicles/pedestrians around to adjust to the speed of a given vehicle. There can’t be any necessity for high acceleration rate.

Deceleration Rates
Yes, in emergencies, there may be situations where you may need to decelerate very quickly or hit a short break. However, many times, these short breaks are also because drivers don’t pay attention on the road while driving as they may be busy quickly looking into a message on phone or chatting with the passenger next seat. Either of the reasons do not suggest good driving skills. Beyond certain limit, there can’t be any justification for high deceleration rates if the driver is vigilant enough.

Signaling during lane changes or turns
Signalling is the most fundamental medium of communication between drivers on the road. Failing to communicate results in crashes that are fatal at times. We already have software in the cars that alert if there is a lane departure without signaling. Taking it further, these software also store the number of times these alerts have been flagged for a given driver. In addition, any turning of the car without an indicator on, also indicate bad driving practice.

Distance from the car ahead vs speed
Many of us know the 3 second rule. Personally, I feel 3 seconds is more and, in practice, people generally keep about 1.5 to 2 seconds, which is still in the safe zone if you car’s breaks are working fine and you are attentive on the road. There are already software available in some cars that identify the distance between your car and the car ahead of you and determine if it is the safe distance or not. These systems can monitor whether the drivers maintain safe distance between the cars, taking into consideration the speeds as well. This can prevent tailgating which can be dangerous.

Road Speed Limit vs Car Speed
This might be a little tricky as it may require data about the speed limits of every road in a given geography. In general, there is a tolerance or 5-10% above the posted speed limit but beyond that, it can be dangerous for the driver as well as other cars around him/her. And this is perhaps the most violated rule while driving in most of the countries, once drivers acquire their licenses.

Seat-belt Compliance
Not wearing seat belts can increase the severity of injuries or even fatality in an event of an accident. Seat belt is also one of the reasons you can get a ticket, if you are not wearing one. It is a good enough reason to fail a drive test as well. Cars, since more than a decade, already have alerts if the seat belt is not on and the car is in drive mode. It will not be something very difficult to track.

Complete Stops at Stop Signs
This might be stretching things a bit too far but then that’s what STOP signs are for – to stop. This one may have a little low weightage, and depending upon whether the violation is in the form of complete failure to stop at the STOP sign or partial stopping at the STOP sign, the penalty quotient can be determined.

In addition to these, the number of at-fault accidents and total number of violations can be other major determinants during the issue and renewal of the drivers licenses. The entire system can ensure that the drivers remain safe drivers throughout and not just during the driving tests, which is essentially the objective of the road safety. Also, as they say, never send a human to do a machine’s job – we can put human intelligence to better use rather than have them sit with a stranger whose driving habits they are not at all aware about.

Sources: Wikipedia, Shell Global

 

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When You Don’t Respect Your Mean Machine

A couple of days back I read about this gruesome accident on the Ahmedabad-Mumbai highway where three members in a four member family were killed in a car crash. Preliminary investigation revealed that the driver couldn’t control the car speed around a turn as the machine was above 140 kmph which is certainly not the speed at which you can take a turn.

I recalled the amazing piece of advice, one of my colleague friend gave me when I purchased my car. He said,

“Treat your car like a wife/girlfriend, not like a prostitute”.

Lot of times, I wonder, why people become so careless about one thing that keep their lives on the move. In the rapid pace world, your automobile is your best friend that will never ditch you when you are in trouble, if you take care of it properly. If you don’t believe it, just imagine the amount of safety you will feel when you are in your car/bike in a dark deserted road compared to if you were on the feet. Just recall yourself driving in an A/C car in a scorching heat but you don’t feel a thing inside. Recall yourself driving a bike through the traffic jam like a snake through the grass. Today, millions rely on their own vehicles to reach anywhere.

However, not many show even a hint of respect to the automobile they own. If you’re doing any of the following, you’re among them.

1. Over speeding

Just like the guy who had no respect for the car to drive it at a decent speed and be careful around the turns, a lot of us enjoy the thrill of high speed rides. However, not many really care about the load it puts on the engine and the tyres when you are speeding your machine at 130-140+.

How many people know that you have to have less than ideal air in your tyres when you are driving on highways to avoid tyre bursts? How many do a basic sanity check of their oils, coolants and air pressure before long journeys? How many drivers understand the meaning and reasoning behind doing wheel balancing and alignment?

Unfortunate are the cars, whose drivers don’t even bother to get the tyres and the engine checked with the mechanic after hours of such torture when it takes less than an hour to get the things checked.

2. Laziness with Gears

Many people without a professional training on driving in India have this habit of screwing up their engines due to laziness of changing gears. Changing gears is something, a lot of people hate, especially when they have to slow down the car while driving. So, the compensation is made by keeping the clutch pressed till they have to keep the car slow and then applying more acceleration when they have to speed up again.

Those who understand the concept of torque, should read “The Transmission” section in this link, to understand why it is important to have car in the right gear at all times.

One of the basic concepts about driving that I learnt was that you always have to keep one hand on the steering and another on the gears. This helps in better control of the car in case you need to apply your breaks and shift the gears down. It prevents your car from stopping. These days, power steering is a norm that makes steering very easy to maneuver with just one hand.

3. Car etiquette – seat belt, cleanliness

Along with the driving lessons, it would make more sense to have some basic car etiquettes lessons as well. For many Indians, seat belts and helmets are obstacles to amazing driving experience rather than protective gears. Also, basic cleanliness of the car and maintaining the car well is something not so much embedded in the minds.

A filthy car is a direct result of a filthy owner.

Many Indians love Jason Statham and the Transporter series. Perhaps they should take this piece more seriously than just the car chases and the stunts.

4. Parking with tyres not straight

One of the things that personally irritate me when I see it is a car parked with tyres not straight. Aesthetically, it looks pathetic to any car in this world. Apart from that, when you are backing up, it increases the risk of banging into some other car parked nearby due to reduced predictability of the car movement. It also shows how serious the driver is about parking the car in the right manner.

Parking with tyres not straight will have minimal effect on your car’s mechanics and electrics. However, it shows how you treat your car.

5. Not Taking the Driving Lessons Seriously – Biting Point and Parallel Parking

Unfortunately, India is a country where ensuring proper driving habits is not a culture. A lot of Indians are pathetic when it comes to driving. However, they end up getting license through hook or crook as India’s RTO agencies leave many loopholes. One of the reports said that Mumbai’s two of the three RTOs had zero rejection rate. This means anyone and everyone who applied for a driver’s license, received it. As ridiculous and impractical it sounds, the truth stands that it will be the story across the country if it is so in the largest metropolitan of the country. So, when you get access to something (driving) so easily, you don’t value it. Add to it, the lenient traffic control system where you can get away with anything and everything.

The two most important things, at which most of the Indians struggle when it comes to driving, are the biting point and parallel parking. With biting point being a challenging task, lot of Indians avoid it. So, on the road, it results in far higher reliance on the accelerator and the breaking, resulting in either inefficient engine performance or a traffic jam. Parallel parking, seemingly difficult, is not a rocket science. However, not many Indian drivers understand it perfectly and struggle with it.

Ultimately, how your car treats you, depends on how you treat your car. You screw it up, it will screw you up.

Maharashtra Unexplored: Murud Janjira Fort

Murud Janjira is a unique island fort, about 500+ years old, located near Murud village. It is about 15-20kms drive from Kashid with amazing beach landscapes on the way which will force you to take a stop and absorb the moment.

After an amazing day at Kashid, the next morning, we started off for Murud Janjira fort on a slightly bumpy and narrow road, though much better than the ones seen between Diveagar and Harihareshwar.  As we saw, it was only in the villages that road quality used to deteriorate significantly while, between the villages, it was pretty much smooth. We reached Murud in almost no time.

We crossed the Murud beach, pretty much the same as any other beach, to approach Rajapuri. As we went further, the road began to have more sharp turns. After driving for about 2-3kms from Murud beach, we had the first glimpse of the fort, coupled with amazing landscape of fort, sea, beach and mountains – all in one shot.

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We had to stop for a while to enjoy the landscape. The – not so hot – morning weather made it more necessary to do so. After spending about 10 minutes absorbing the moment and clicking some pictures, we were back on the road for the last mile (literally).

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From Janjira beach, you get a boat that takes you to the Janjira fort and brings you back. The charge for the boat is very nominal and the distance is also very less. However, with boats coming in from Murud, Janjira as well as Dighe, the waiting time outside the fort was far more than traveling time. I cannot miss to say that all the time I spent on the boat, the Swades song – yeh jo des hai tera – kept playing in my mind given the number of people they stuffed in a single boat, without any life jackets.

When we reached the fort, it was a high tide, although receding, but that created a lot of trouble in people getting off and getting in to the boat. A bunch of youngsters were doing amazing job of ensuring that people land on the wet and slippery fort stairs safely. Getting on the boat was not so much of a problem. After waiting for about 40 minutes, our boat’s turn came finally.

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Janjira is an amazing fort only when you hear the history of the fort and connect it with what you see. It is necessary to have a guide with you to tell you the history of the fort instead of roaming around the fort on your own. When you take the boat from Janjira beach, one of the folks sailing the boat will also become the guide throughout the 45 minutes that you spend in the fort. The setup is that the boat, in which you reach the fort, stays around the fort for those 45 minutes and takes the same group back to the beach.

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Guide explaining the history of the 3rd largest cannon in India

Fortunately we had a good guide (as I cross checked the facts he told, in google) who kept telling us some amazing facts about the fort construction, secret routes to the sea as well as Rajapuri village, the third largest cannon in India (on which he is seen sitting) and also how the Siddis created these 22 bastions fort after demolishing the original smaller fort. Since then, Janjira is the only unconquered fort in India in spite of several attempts by Shivaji Maharaj, the Portuguese, the Dutch and the East India Company.

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Fort tour got over pretty much on time as the sailors had to go back to the jetty for another ride. We reached back in no time. It was quite hot in the afternoon as we reached and coconut water was buzzing with customers. After having one each, supplementing it with ice candies, from a shop few minutes’ walk away, we called it a day and began our journey back to Mumbai.

However, Shri Krupa Guest House was the unanimous choice for lunch as the food there was really amazing and Kashid will be on our way back to Mumbai. So, after confirming our arrival, we left Janjira with some really interesting facts about the only unconquered fort of India.

Banned in India

Few months back, a report came in Hindustan Times about how violence has become a part of life for Africans in Delhi. While huge majority of them are in the city for study purposes, they are invariably assumed to be either thieves or drug peddlers. A few days back an African origin woman was beaten up as the shopkeeper thought she was shoplifting. Without confirming anything the shopkeeper started abusing her, gathered some people around from the streets and beat her up. Early this year, a Delhi government minister, without any evidence, asked police to raid houses of Nigerian women in the middle of the night and when police refused, he did that himself.

_73028849_73028848_Source - BBC

Image Source: BBC

And this is not just the case with Delhi. Few months back, some cops from Mumbai Goregaon Police Station asked a group of Nigerian students to vacate flats in Aarey Colony, a colony very close to the national park. Reason? They were of African origin. O yes, that is enough for us to generalize. Are you a student? Are you a bachelor? Are you a Gujju? Are you a Bong? Are you a Mallu? Are you a Punjabi? Are you a Marwadi? Are you in film line? – That’s “too much” information for us to draw conclusions.

Someone just asked, isn’t there any police verification happening before a landlord rents out a flat in Mumbai? Yes, that should happen theoretically but then that is a “work” for police. They are already so busy curbing the existing crime and top it up with terrorist threats. Only 47,000 force to cater to a population of about 20 million!

So, to solve any problem, ban it. That is the simplest thing to do. Don’t rent out your flats to a particular group. Don’t let that movie to be released. Don’t allow sale of that book. Prohibit this. Prohibit that. It will hurt religious sentiments. It will hurt regional sentiments. It will hurt that caste. It will trigger communal violence. It will belittle that particular group. And there are millions of other idiotic reasons as well to prohibit anything in this country.

While there are many things which are banned in India, I was able to compile six of the most amazing and wide spread (some of them de jure) ones out of them:

Renting out flats to Students/Bachelors
It’s not only international racism that we follow but there is localized racism as well that we champion – not necessarily on the basis of religion or caste. If you are a student or bachelor, you are banned in India. It is almost impossible to find an apartment in any city of this country without making up some story of you having a “Hum Saath Saath Hai” family who will stay with you. Reason? Read this: Living Alone in India

Being Human… O sorry… Being Gay
Yes. Two humans from same gender, if in love, is a criminal offense in India. The Indian “moral police” find them not just against religion but also threatening to the security of Indian citizens. Unfortunately, even legal entities in India support them. The amazing thing is that the country from which we have inherited the law (guess??) is done away with the law and legalized gay marriages this year. I guess it is just a matter of time that we copy them.

Cycling in Kolkata
O yes, this took me completely by surprise. When the whole world is trying to go green, some Babu Moshaay of Kolkata Police thought, “AAJ KUCH TOOFANI KARTE HAI”. And then, police issued a notification to ban cycling in about 36 streets of Kolkata. The amazing reason for doing this was to “reduce” traffic congestion. Then they thought, “YEH DIL MAANGE MORE”. By 2014, they expanded this ban on 174 streets.

Blaming men for rapes
Oh no, how can you do that? Boys will be boys. Some of the most amazing reasons for rape in India are:
– Mobile phones
– Chowmein
– Women not calling rapists “bhaiyaa” (brother)
– English movies
– Skirts
– Mannequins
– Urbanization
– Horoscope
– Smoking
– Liquor
– Co-ed schools and the list continue.

Not honking while driving
Honking is largely considered as a solution to most of the traffic problems in India. How will the traffic get cleared if you don’t honk? How will the person driving in front of you know that he/she has to move forward unless you honk? How will the signal turn green if you don’t honk? How will you prove that you are THE KING OF THE ROAD unless you honk? You are impotent if you don’t honk on Indian roads.

Civic Sense
It is completely inhuman if you dump garbage in a dustbin while in a public place. Just check out any place near a paan shop and you will see India’s greatest painters (and perhaps brand ambassadors of Eveready) at work. Stand in a line with just about more than a finger’s distance from the person ahead of you and take a bet to get a push from behind. And if you follow traffic rules like wearing helmet, following signals even when cop is not there or not allowing kids below 18 to drive bike/car, you are from another planet. And how can you not burn at least one public property (city buses are the favorites) when you have amazingly low tolerance to another community/religion/caste/nationality? Slowing down your car and moving it out of the way of an Ambulance is…… JUST NOT DONE!!

Simple (Real) Weddings
Unless you outspend Kapoorsaab or Chaddhaji for your son/daughter’s wedding, wedding is illegal. Indians top when it comes to the amount of wastage – be it money, energy, food, time – that happens on weddings. While it is essentially the celebration of two souls becoming one, there are hundreds of other souls who evaluate the weddings by the amount spent on – dowry, venue, decoration, food, guest accommodation, liquor, gifts and much more. Unfortunately Indians have not come out of the bubble of pre-British era when the country was really rich and could afford it. Today, people sell their lands, break their fix deposits, spend life time of savings and even take personal loans for just that one day – which is probably too much overrated. Yes, it is a special day but there is whole life ahead as well.

The list is not exhaustive and there are many more but it just indicates how far we are from rationality and close to social evils like racism, dowry, lack of civic sense and trivializing crimes like rapes.

Other references: dfuse.in, articles from Hindustan Times, Times of India, The Hindu, Wikipedia

Top 10 Crazy Indian Driving Habits That Will Drive You Crazy

Driving in India can be crazier than you can imagine. Every day, Indian roads witness almost all kinds of craziness that can potentially exist on any of the roads in the world. I do experience at least 2-3 of that every day (and yes, sometimes, I have found myself to be a part of it as well 😀 ).

So, I am putting down the ten most annoying driving habits of Indians that I have observed. Of course, this is not the complete list and depending upon individual experiences, the rankings will vary but I guess it won’t be too different 😉

Source: Muppet Wiki

Source: Muppet Wiki

1. Honkers

These are the set of drivers who are born to honk. They trust horn to solve all the traffic problems as much as, if not more, people trust Modi or Kejriwal to solve India’s problems. Be it a traffic jam or a signal that is about to open or desperate attempt to overtake – they use horn more than they would use gear box. It is a symbol for people who are pussy cats at home, to show (or pretend) who wears pants on the road!! : P There is also a subset of impatient honkers who follow the rule of 3+ (honk at least thrice) irrespective of whether you are being a gentleman or not to give them the way.

About 1.5 years back, Lokmat Media started a campaign in Maharashtra asking drivers if they are suffering from HBKB (Horn Bajaane Ki Bimaari) and if they have treated themselves from this disease in case they are suffering. More such campaigns are surely needed.

2. Last 5 Seconds

This is one thing I experience everyday while coming back from work (I don’t encounter a signal while going) when people start honking  and setting off to reach almost a quarter way down the intersection, five seconds before the signal is due to open. Yes, I know you have identified the sequence in which sides open and know that it’s your turn next. But don’t think that you are the only one who has done that.

Combine this with the other set of jerks for whom Yellow light means RACE!!! Brings in a perfect recipe for collisions.

3. Brighter Than Sunshine

The biggest menace of night driving in India (and may be other parts of the world as well) are the high beamers. Anybody who has driven in the night would have come across at least one douche-bag per trip who, either by negligence or to bully, ends up flaunting the luminosity of their head lights only to blind out the drivers coming from the other side. It is not just annoying but life-threatening.

4. My Dad’s Road

These are the set of morons who are probably unaware of a feature available in all cars – side indicators – or think all roads belong exclusively to them. I had in mind to mention about chaps who don’t use indicators while changing lanes but then recalled those super-chaps who struggle with using indicators when taking complete left or right turns!!

5. Call the Shots

These folks either complement the group mentioned in the previous point or they are the “superhumans” who possess extraordinary powers at both the ends. While you are politely following the traffic rules by showing an indicator before you take a turn, if they are behind you in the adjacent lane, they would accelerate to overtake in order to avoid slowing down.

“How dare somebody show me an indicator…. I am the KING of the road!!”

 

Source: Six Parallel Lines

Source: Six Parallel Lines

6. No Lanes Land

Lane driving is a kind of alien concept for Indian drivers. A lot of traffic jams happen due to the same reason. A non-driver (??!!) would never understand how painful it is to see the car in the adjacent lane pass by you while you are waiting for the car in front to move ahead. These drivers are always looking for the “imaginary” fastest lane that can get them to their destination in a flash. They are often seen with cars at 45 degree angle on a straight road in a busy traffic.

7. I am the BOSS

This is the group with which the above group ends up having a fight more often than not. While it is painful to see the car in the adjacent lane roar past you, it is even more painful to see yourself slowed down by the car entering your lane. I had a personal experience on this, when my lane converged with adjacent lane at a toll booth and the driver in the car behind me started abusing and honking when I entered his lane. These drivers become a real pain in the azz at points where traffic converge.  It kind of hurts their ego if you dare to enter their lane, even if it is absolutely necessary.

8. Daredevils

For those F&F fans, it is very difficult to resist the urge to go rocket on an empty road. But very few understand that you are putting not just yours but someone else’s life also into a danger. I am not sure if it really needs an explanation to these folks that going 100KMPH on a national highway and going 100KMPH on a narrow deserted street are two different things. And these are the same morons who laughed their asses off while watching Tom Cruise racing his car in Mumbai streets during evening peak hours in MI-3.

9. Pathetic Parkers

Yes, you have all the money in the world to buy an amazing luxury sedan and learn about all its amazing features and flaunt it all over the place. You are also amazing when it comes to accelerating it from 0 to 100 in a matter of seconds, use its amazing brakes right before it touches the hard boundary of the 2.5m X 5m parking space.  Perhaps you should have learnt a bit about how to park your car straight and not occupy adjacent parking space. It takes an amazingly disciplined driver to get the car parked dead straight, “including the front wheels”.

10. Litter Thy Country

You are going on a perfect cruise mode on a highway and you see a majestic 2.0-litre 4-cylinder 140.8bhp 4-valve 16V In Line Engine black Audi A4 roaring past you. Suddenly the rear seat window with of a high-gloss aluminum exterior window trim opens and an empty Lays packet is thrown outside which comes and sticks to your windscreen. There is another group who will eat Paan Masala and will spit on the road – doesn’t matter whether they are driving an Alto or Audi.

This isn’t really dangerous at all but just shows that money doesn’t really translate into civic sense. These are also the same set of people who will later complain about dirty roads.