Time to learn, Delhi: Overloading your vehicle is injurious to health... and life
In the major car crash in Punjabi Bagh, West Delhi, that killed 3 people and injured four, overloading and speed were the main factors. We talk to traffic cops and Delhi commuters about what they think about overloading. And this is why you need to brak the habit now!delhi Updated: May 25, 2017 13:41 IST
Three students were killed and four injured recently, when their Honda City car skidded and fell off a flyover near Punjabi Bagh, West Delhi. While the crash was caused by a number of reasons, one of the most important factors was that it was overloaded — there were seven people in a vehicle meant for not more than five.
Overloading is hardly new in Delhi, or anywhere in India, for that matter. But the difference between Delhi and other cities is that the average speed of vehicles in Delhi is much higher than in other cities. And when the speed is high, controlling a vehicle that has begun skidding is that much more difficult.
We often overload our cars, motorbikes, autorickshaws etc without once thinking about just how dangerous this habit is, for ourselves and for other road users. The Delhi traffic police penalise overloading and often conduct checks on the vehicles. But they cannot cover every vehicle in a city like Delhi, where there are about one crore vehicles. Many of these are not BS-IV-compliant, meaning they are older vehicles without rear seat belts.
And why would the police even need to do such checks? Don’t we, the people, have a responsibility to abide by rules?
We talked to traffic cops and commuters and this is what they have to say about overloading.
The rules are for people’s safety
A traffic cop who is mostly stationed at KG Marg says, “Log sunte nahi hai. Yeh sab rules ke against hai par tab bhi karte hi hai. Rok lo to phir request karte hai ki chhod do jaldi mein the. Auto waale bhi kaafi sawaariyan le lete the, but ab kaafi kam hua hai. Rule ka paalan karne mein koi buraai nahi hai; public ki safety ke liye hi hote hai rule (People do not listen. Overloading is against the rules but they still do it. When we stop them, they plead with us to let them go, saying they were in a hurry. Autorickshaw drivers used to overload their vehicles earlier, but such cases happen less often now. There is no harm in adhering to the rules. They are, after all, for people’s safety).”
Rules are blatantly violated
An official from the Delhi Police traffic department says, “The RC (registration certificate) of every vehicle clearly specifies the number of persons it can carry. But this is blatantly violated. While such violation happens often in personal cars, it is most frequent in the case of school cabs and trucks,” said an official.
Overloading isn’t cool
Akshay Gibbs, a 21-year-old college student, says, “Everyone thinks that they’ll save time and money when they overload a car. That isn’t cool at all, yaar! It is like inviting death. I have always been careful with such things, and this [crash] incident should be an eye-opener for others, too.”
Big fines will stop this
Akash Chopra, a 25-year-old animation professional, says, “I’ve never overloaded [a car] since I don’t feel comfortable about the idea. I do know many who try to do this in a hurry, knowing well enough that it is unsafe. If the traffic police are a little more vigilant and slap big fines, people will stop. If ignorance is what causes this, maybe fines finally will stop it.”
People need to learn, and now!
Jaisleen Kaur, a 21-year-old student, says, “I definitely disagree with the idea of overloading, since it not only makes people vulnerable to fatal accidents, but also puts pedestrians and other vehicles in danger. People need to learn, and now, before it is too late. I drive myself and I never do this. The law must be followed.”
- Loss of stability: An overloaded vehicle will be less stable, difficult to steer and will take longer to stop. Every vehicle reacts differently when their maximum weight (which they are designed to carry) is exceeded.
- Tyre danger: Overloaded vehicles can cause the tyres to overheat and wear rapidly, which in turn, increases the chance of premature, dangerous and expensive failure or bursts.
- Cramped space: The driver’s control and operating space in the vehicle is diminished when it is overloaded, increasing the risks of an accident.
- Acceleration loss: An overloaded vehicle cannot accelerate like it should, making it extremely difficult to move smoothly between other vehicles and also to react in case of an emergency.
- Tilted lights: The headlights of an overloaded vehicle tend to tilt up, which at night, can blind oncoming drivers, thus causing an accident.
- Brake stress: Brakes have to work much harder when a vehicle is overloaded. Heavier objects moving at a high speed take a longer time to stop, which is simple physics. Brakes also tend to overheat and lose their effectiveness in stopping the car in such cases.
- Seat belt issues: When a vehicle is overloaded, seat belts cannot be worn by all passengers, and thus safety is compromised.
- Weak suspension: Overloading also puts the whole suspension system of the car under immense stress and, over time, the weakest point can easily give way, resulting in a crash.
- Other issues: Vehicles that are often overloaded will incur higher maintenance costs — tyres, brakes, shock absorbers — all are affected, and it also results in higher fuel consumption. Insurance, too, becomes void as overloading is illegal.
So, do yourself and the Delhi traffic police a favour and please do not overload when you’re riding next. Drive safe, Delhi.
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First Published: May 25, 2017 13:08 IST