If you ever need an assessment of what is exactly wrong with our society vis-à-vis our driving habits, just stand outside a school at morning time or when it gets over. And watch. Underage drivers zipping around on two-wheelers, even fancy cars; parents parking haphazardly, arguing, fighting or simply getting frustrated with the chaos; and innocent little kids watching it closely, learning road ‘manners’ on the go.
If not reflected in the number of mishaps, the problem of school- and college-hour traffic is quite evident in the clogging of several roads across the city. The utter failure of the traffic police machinery in the face of the rush is evident too. Hardly any traffic cops can be seen outside schools during the morning and afternoon.
Traffic outside certain schools is indeed managed by cops; for instance, the Sector-26 stretch where four schools are located. But the situation is pathetic outside several other private schools and almost all government schools.
The number of students from involved in accidents may not be alarming on paper, but there has been a rise in number of accidents involving students in the last couple of years. While four students were involved in accidents in 2012, the number has gone up to 10 this year till August.
But the very fact that underage driving goes on unabated is a pointer towards a larger problem.
Overall, as many as 24 road accidents have been reported outside educational institutes in the past three years; and 10 reported till August this year. In the 24 accidents of previous three years, 23 persons were injured and eight were killed. Police say only three major accidents have been reported outside educational institutes in which school or college students were involved; but sources say minor accidents are reported routinely.
Accidents outside educational institutes are mainly due to underage driving. Reckless handling of buses contributes too. Haphazard parking leaves very little space for vehicles to move, causing jams.
While college-goers are routinely careless, even school students zip across town through the day for tuitions and other activities.
Parents say they are forced to give children two-wheelers as they are also hard-pressed due to grueling work schedules and cannot give the kids time or pick/drop them.
As per the police data, nine accidents across town have been reported in the past three years in which students were involved. In 2012, the number was two, which went up to three in 2013, and was four till August this year. In the past three years’ accidents involving students, 37 persons were injured and four persons were killed. This year, in the four such mishaps, 17 persons were injured and one killed.
No rules on PU campus
Chandigarh: On the Panjab University campus, police cannot even enter unless there is a complaint against any individual. In the absence of traffic police, violations go on unabated. From triple riding, to riding without helmet, to speeding and rash driving, to wrong parking, there are common on campus.
There have been accidents on campus that could have been avoided had there been a legal threat.
For instance, on April 16 last year reckless driving by two PU students in separate vehicles led to a headline-making accident on the campus, though fortunately no one was injured seriously. The speed of one of the cars, a Honda Civic, was such that it landed in a pond opposite the administrative block after hitting several vehicles. In the melee, five vehicles were damaged, though the erring boy and girl were challaned and let off.
PU dean, students’ welfare, Navdeep Goyal says, “We are planning to have road markings across the campus. A major issue is that vehicles are parked on both sides. We will soon arrange parking space on one side. This will help tackle the chaos.”