Becoming a responsible driver: From then to now
For Anju Bhandari, a corporate professional, a vacation would have gone awry had she not insisted on wearing seat belts. “In my initial days of driving, I was not as particular. I had a rather casual attitude and would not pay much heed to these little but important things. With time, I began to observe how efficient and responsible drivers follow rules, and this really changed my perspective. During one of our trips, my two-year-old, Krish, was sitting in the front seat with my husband, and if he had not put on the seat belt, he would have injured himself. It is also important that my little one wears the seat belt - after all, it is for our collective safety.”
There are many like her, who were not as particular when they began driving, but gradually became more responsible and efficient. The surge in road accidents has been an eye-opener for many, who now hold road safety in the highest regard. While it isn’t possible to control how others drive, one can be alert themselves to avert accidents.
“Underage and drunk truck drivers have always been a menace on Indian roads. Having been in an accident myself with a truck driver has convinced me that we need to ensure better implementation of traffic regulations. While I can’t control how others drive, I certainly can ensure what I do! Besides, the offenders must be given a more stringent punishment, so that they don’t repeat this again,” says Shivesh Saklani, an IT professional.
Through its ‘Be a Road Hero campaign’, Hero MotoCorp is encouraging what constitutes right road behaviour. In its second phase now, the campaign urges everyone to wear helmets and seat belts, help road accident victims, and follow traffic rules for 21 days. After all, that’s how long it takes to form a habit.
They say, you must learn from your mistakes, and when these are near-fatal, they shake you up even more. That’s what happened when S Khanna, an advertising professional, found himself in such a situation. “Consuming alcohol is a favourite pastime for many, especially on Friday nights and weekends. What one does not realise is that even after drinking a lot, you do not feel so and think you can drive. The reaction time during drunk driving is really low and on an unlucky day, you can lose control, and, of course, your life. It’s never worth driving drunk - always take a cab when drinking. This happened to me once when I drank a lot and was driving recklessly in Gurgaon at a speed of 120 kmph. It was a near-fatal accident and that’s when I vowed never to drive when I drink,” he adds.
Some people begin to drive at an early age and don’t treat it as seriously. Over the years, they realise how important it is to be responsible and follow traffic rules.
“When I started driving, I compared the experience to being in a video game where obstacles come your way and you have to dodge them. The more you dodge successfully, the more confident you get and the more risks you take. But unlike a video game, here if you miss even once, you don’t get to just simply restart the game or watch a video and get another life. Over the years of driving, and observing others’ driving, I have learnt to be more alert and also anticipate more. In the beginning I used to get more nervous with the chaos, but I am a lot calmer now,” says Preeta Ganguli, a mental health professional.
According to the WHO Global Report on Road Safety 2018, India ranked at the top for the number of road accident deaths among 199 nations. Almost 11 per cent of accident-related deaths in the world are attributed to India.
Phase 1 of the ‘Be a Road Hero campaign’ saw immense success last year, with over 27,000 pledges taken. A Road Hero champions change and pledges to observe better road behaviour, and also helps others make correct judgments on the road.
Take this quiz here and assess your road safety behaviour. #BeARoadHero
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