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HindustanTimes Wed,16 Apr 2014

Stay sane in your lane
Hindustan Times
February 20, 2012
First Published: 23:24 IST(20/2/2012)
Last Updated: 23:25 IST(20/2/2012)

It has taken yet another tragic accident to drive home the point that if you drive over the speed limit on our inadequate roads, death is certainly in the passenger seat with you. The death of Anukool Rishi whose speeding Lamborghini Gallardo not only killed him but critically injured a passing cyclist in Delhi suggests that when it comes to road safety, many Indians are indiscriminate risk-takers. Fourteen people die every hour on our roads but this has not lead to any serious soul searching about our lax laws, people's disregard for safety both of themselves and others or the condition of our roads which are not built to cater to such super cars.

In recent times, there have been several crashes of high speed luxury cars mostly at night. In most cases the prosecution falls by the wayside thanks to the lack of witnesses, poor investigation, or as we saw in the infamous BMW case, witnesses turning hostile. Almost all states have registered a sharp increase in road fatalities as more cars have come onto the road, often driven by inexperienced drivers who have little knowledge of rules and regulations. This indifference to life seems to permeate all sections of society, irrespective of wealth or education. It is true that there are very few facilities for pedestrians on our roads. This puts them at high risk from speeding cars. In cities there are overpasses and subways, but it is a common sight even in the heart of the capital to see people leaping across road dividers to nip across to the oth-er side faster. Highways which were meant to speed up the progress of interstate traffic are being used by all sorts of vehicles sta-rting from scooters to buses to super cars which all travel at differential speeds. And, of course, there are pedestrians crossing highways simply because many of them do not have facilities for people to get to the other side. We do have the occasional road safety week but nothing seems to have dispelled the ability of people with money and clout to bulldoze the police and get away cheaply.

In most countries, offences like drunken driving attract stiff penalties, even the loss of one's licence. But, here, such a thing rarely happens and checks for drunken driving are confined to festival days, at that. There is also a severe lack of trauma facilities, resulting in accident victims losing their lives for want of timely medical attention. Yet, more and more cars are pouring out on to our inadequate roads, incidentally the second-largest road network in the world. Slogans like 'speed thrills but kills' have no meaning for most of our drivers. Stricter laws, better roads and fewer cars could help reduce fatalities. But the biggest remedy would be for everyone to realise that driving in the fast lane could often mean the difference between life and death.


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