Rash driving recently claimed the life of a class 6 student of St. Edward's School, Paras Rathore, but streets in the city are still not safe for pedestrians, especially children. Though around 120 cops have been deployed in the state capital to regulate traffic most of their time is spent in managing traffic jams. There are about half a dozen schools and colleges situated on Cart Road while several schools are located on other busy roads in the city.
Every day about 50 vehicles are issued traffic fines for the rash and negligent driving in Shimla of which the drivers in most instances are youngsters. "There are some cases in which the driver is a minor, which is another offence," said a traffic cop requesting anonymity.
Though the transport department has a speed interceptor it has remained unused for several months. The police try to keep a strict vigil on those violating traffic rules but are hampered by lack of necessary equipment including speed interceptors and CCTV cameras.
Not only negligent drivers but unregulated public transport also poses a threat to the lives of schoolchildren. There are an estimated 100 private buses plying on local routes and most schoolkids travel in them. Dilapidated and overloaded buses also pose a grave risk to their lives. At peak time in morning and evening drives of private buses resort to negligent driving to outdo their rivals. "Morning and evening hours are our peak hours, we only drive fast but not rashly," Ashu Kumar, a bus driver, claimed.
Even after several accidents the police have failed to check speeding and overloading in local buses. After any incident the cops initially act sternly but later irregularities become the order of the day.
Another mode of transport for schoolchildren, especially those in junior classes, is cabs. Parents hire cabs for their kids to drop and bring them back from school. They are small vehicles and are authorized to transport only five to six people but usually ferry around 10 to 12 students to and from school. Several such vehicles have made special arrangements to adjust more students than the permitted capacity.
Meanwhile, Additional Superintendent of Police BD Negi said the police planned to start a special drive to check traffic violations. "As far as schoolchildren's safety is concerned, we have spoken with school authorities to provide safe transportation. Overloading in buses is another issue that parents are aware of," he added.
Parents donate Paras' organs
Paras's unsuccessful battle for life ended on Tuesday but his parents donated his organs to a hospital. St. Edward's School observed a holiday on Thursday as a mark of remembrance. Paras was hit by a rashly driven car on July 27.