Of late, newspapers and other news channels have been reporting cases of road accidents in Chennai. The victim is simply knocked down. Sometimes the culprits escape, and sometimes, they are arrested. What next? Now that they have been arrested, are these guys charged with manslaughter, or is thier license cancelled? Often it is heard that money does all the talking. So it comes as no surprise to some folks to find the same driver behind the wheel once again. More deaths follow.
Buses do not have doors. When the driver suddenly hits the brakes, folks seated near the entrance get thrown out of thier seats, and they come under the wheel. I am referring to the tragic death of a college lecturer whose head came under the wheel because the driver decided to brake when he was overspeeding. The lady who stepped out of her house at 6.30am was dead by 7.30am....Her father refuses to see his daughter's crushed head.
Parents are to blame too. They pay a heavy price for thier foolishness. A child recently died after he lost his balance while cycling on a busy road and was hit by a Public Transportation Bus. He was probably in his 7th grade or so.
The laws do not protect anyone nor do they prevent such accidents from occuring again. In another case, a casual labourer with no prior training was driving the bus and killed someone. In the event of an accident, people shy away from helping the victim for fear of police harassment. Usually, victims bleed to death. I lost a good friend because his accident was termed as a 'police case' and no one came forward to offer a ride to the hospital.
The West has a lot to offer in this respect. Insurance premiums on vehicles are very high, and increases with the number of offenses you commit. Infact a friend of mine almost lost his license for overspeeding. In North America, drunk driving, hit and run accidents, overspeeding, lack of proper documentation are taken very seriously. Unlike India, were majority of such cases usually get away by pulling a few strings or coughing up huge amounts of money, and sometimes it does not even have to come to that.
The problem at hand is far more complicated, but not impossible to deal with. It requires the involvement of the administration, the general public, NGOs, media and the corporates to address the issue. Community groups, or social activist groups should push for more stringent laws that will curb the incidence of road accidents. Rallies, posters and documentaries can act as great boosters in creating a responsible citizenry. Street-plays (or theatre) like the Koothupatrai, are fantastic educational tools that create awareness about social evils and promotes progressive thinking among the local people. A more conscientious public and a cooperative police force can go a long way in saving lives.
Parents should play a dynamic role in educating their children about observing traffic rules. Schools should also actively encourage children to discuss such issues.In the USA, the famous cartoon character, Garfield, is used by the National Safety COuncil to educate children about observing road rules. And kids take Garfield very seriously.
Not to forget, as individuals, we also have a responsibility towards society. Through sustained effort, it is possible to make a small difference in the lives of many. Let us play our part and not give up on Hope. At the end of the day, that is all we have left.