30 May 2017 | Last updated 02:33 PM

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Are we becoming numb to accidental deaths on our roads?
Rohit Chandavarkar | Wednesday, 19 April 2017 AT 11:44 AM IST
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Visuals of a fast car, over speeding beyond reasonable limits and crashing into a family of five, who were just standing on the median of the road waiting to cross the road in Baner area of Pune, have shocked the conscience of Pune badly.

 The closed circuit television (CCTV) camera visuals of the car ramming into the median have gone viral on social media, they are been run senselessly all day again and again on regional news channels as they generate high television rating points. Just the shock value of the incident is too high.

On the same day a similar deadly incident happened in Goa where three members of a family from Mumbai got killed - for no fault of theirs - because of some driver of a car travelling fast suddenly lost control of the vehicle. Both incidents were very shocking but just moving beyond the shock, now it’s perhaps time to ask questions about why such incidents keep happening again and again and how these can be prevented.

The official figures released by the ministry of surface transport make it clear that in India every year a little over 1,50,000 people die in road accidents and the figure of people getting injured is three times more than this figure. The dangerous part is that this figure is increasing every year as the number of vehicles on roads grows at about 16% per annum.  

The sad part is that these incidents generate huge TV rating points and grab newspaper headlines for one day and then they are just forgotten with no lessons learned at all, then there is another shock as soon as another such incident happens.

Take a look at any road in Pune and you would see hundreds if not thousands of two-wheeler, three-wheeler and four-wheeler riders and drives breaking every possible traffic rule! “Three persons riding on a two-wheeler on a highway that runs thru the city without any helmets, riding at the centre of the road completely oblivious of heavy vehicles that could hit them and take their lives”… “Car drivers driving fast while holding mobile phone to the ear in one hand” …”Two-wheelers suddenly travelling in the wrong direction on a one way street” .. these are the things one watches in Pune every minute of every hour of every day. There seems to be just no awareness about safety or discipline.

And then suddenly one day an incident claims the lives of two or three members of a family right in the middle of a city road and the city is shocked by it.

Educated Pune citizens know what the solution to this hazard is... They need not be given any advice on the subject. Basic safety norms, basic road discipline can be easily inculcated among riders and drivers at young age thru educational institutions or other means. This effort is totally missing in the current scenario.

Better traffic management by police is another requirement. Currently in a city like Pune there seems to be no fear of law (traffic cops) among citizens. A lot of things need to improve on the traffic management front and the process must be undertaken at some point.

If we don’t take the issue of traffic education and restricting the hazard seriously, there will be no escape from incidents such as the one happened at Baner on Monday. All stakeholders must unite to make our roads safer or else we will continue to pay a heavy price.

Sarika Sengar - Wednesday, 19 April 2017 AT 12:49 PM IST
There are several volunteer groups working tirelessly to create awareness around safe driving. However, we need to understand the crux of the problem, which is the entire driver training and licensing process. If one can obtain a driving license without ever having given a driving test, it speaks volumes about how we value safety. Also, if one can negotiate with traffic cops on the fines, the problem will never go away. Look at countries where one could go through several driving tests, before being considered fit to be given a license. Over & above this, the penalties for breaking traffic rules and endangering fellow drivers or pedestrians, are so stiff that one would not easily flout rules. Till the transport ministry gets serious about this, the RTOs, so called driving schools and traffic cops, will continue to make money without adding value. A complete overhaul of the system is the only answer.

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