[this article appeared in Hindu Metro Plus Bangalore] sometime back
With nearly one lakh people killed annually, India has earned a needless record as the country with the second highest road accident rate according to the World Road Statistics 2007 data. This was brought home to me when I opened my door this morning and found my 13-year old standing there sobbing her heart out. I panicked; certain, that something horrible had happened to her. As indeed, it had. A motorcycle had hit the poor child after she finished her basketball camp. Just as she had stepped off the pavement to cross the road and join her father waiting across the street, a motorcycle had come racing around the corner and hit her on her arm. Fortunately, she had fallen on the side way and had not been run over.
My daughter, even as she sobbed, insisted that she had looked both ways before crossing the road. She had definitely not anticipated a speeding maniac appearing out of the blue – and at that a family man with a wife and child riding pillion! The rider stopped just for a second and rudely claimed it was my daughter’s fault before driving off, without even checking if she was okay!
This incident only highlights one of the biggest dangers on our roads. Indian drivers seem incapable of following road rules, even the most rudimentary ones intended to prevent deaths. Speeding appears to be the norm with most drivers. Everyone is in a hurry – motorcyclists driving on the pavement, buses overtaking other buses and people going the wrong way even on one ways. There is no dearth of rules but utter absence of enforcement. As the statistics show, we are clearly not prepared to follow the rules on our own.
The fact that most Indians overseas whether in the Middle East, Singapore or elsewhere are law abiding and safe drivers clearly indicates it’s a matter of enforcement rather than a national shortcoming. I wouldn’t want anyone else’s child to go through the harrowing experience mine did.
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