The red triangle

This ubiquitous board helps. Only you must know what it stands for & when

H. Kishie Singh

You have heard of tennis elbow. Now there is a new medical condition: the selfie wrist! It is caused by the overuse of a cell phone to photograph yourself! 

It involves holding the cell phone at arm’s length, usually at an odd angle. This results in a selfie wrist, which is a form of the carpal tunnel syndrome. The selfie-wala may experience a sharp pain that comes from bending the wrist into an unnatural posture. This results in a tingling sensation, numbness and a sharp pain in the wrist. This is the carpal tunnel syndrome which happens when the median nerve is squeezed, bent or twisted.

Have you ever wondered why more and more cars are fitted with push buttons to start-stop the cars? It was following feedback to car manufacturers from the senior citizens. A lot of them were suffering from arthritis of the wrist joint. It was easy to insert the key into the slot behind the steering wheel, which unlocked the steering wheel. It was painful to twist the key to start the car. The button can be pushed easily with the thumb or any finger.

There are other dangers related to taking selfies — falling off cliffs, drowning in rivers, crashing the car! Like auto-related deaths, India has the dubious distinction of leading the world in selfie-related deaths!

Misuse, disuse, abuse of anything in India is the norm. The accompanying image is a red plastic reflective triangle that comes with the tool kit of cars today. It is for a very specific purpose. In case of a breakdown, it should be placed at a safe distance, about 20 metres, behind the stalled vehicle. It will warn the oncoming traffic of an obstacle ahead. 

The record pile-up on the highway due to fog past winter goes to this incident involving 40 cars near Fatehgarh Sahib. One after another the cars rammed into the twisted metal on the road due to extremely poor visibility. The police said not one warning triangle was found at the scene of the pile-up!

Anybody who has this red triangle displays it proudly on the front of the vehicle, especially the commercial vehicles. It serves no purpose at the front. First let us understand what is the purpose of this red triangle.

If displayed on the roadside, apex pointing down, it means give way to traffic from left or right. It will generally be found at the intersection of a minor road with a major road. In the absence of such a sign, follow the international rule: priority to traffic on your right.

Displayed on the road, it means some intelligent and concerned driver ahead may be changing wheels or has had a breakdown. Place it at a distance so that the driver who sees it has enough slowing down distance. In case of poor visibility, this red triangle is invaluable. However, you have another problem. If you place it out of sight, it will be stolen for sure! You should have your hazard flashers on too.

If there has been a multi-car collision, do not remain seated in the car. Move to a safe place. A vehicle travelling at speed could come into contact with other vehicles and send bits of steel, glass and plastic flying in all directions!

Happy Motoring!

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