Stupid Road Accidents Despite Lockdown
COVID-19 or C-19, has truly devastated our lives and now onwards, the eras in earth's history will have two new ages or periods, BC (Before COVID-19) and AC (After COVID-19). In my view, the world before and after COVID-19 will be very different, and it's quite possible, things will never be the same again.
While so much has changed, unfortunately one thing has not. And that is the stupid and dreadful manner in which we drive and behave on our roads. The movement of vehicles in the lockdown has reduced substantially, but despite the largely traffic-free roads, the number of road accidents and fatalities has not had a proportionate drop. Just a couple of days back an 18-year-old boy died in Mumbai and his friend suffered serious injuries when they crashed heavily into a stationary vehicle in broad daylight. A 36-year-old lawyer was killed and his companion seriously injured on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway. Again they were reported to be driving very rashly. In Madhya Pradesh, eight labourers died and over 54 suffered injuries when the truck they were travelling in was rammed by a badly driven bus. A woman and her daughter who had travelled some 1,300km from Mumbai were killed just short of their destination in Uttar Pradesh, when a truck hit their auto-rickshaw! Other occupants of the rickshaw were seriously injured. In fact, accidents involving migrant workers travelling back home on foot, bicycles, trucks, tractor trolleys, etc, are being frequently reported from across the country. And the incidents of trucks turning over and buses and cars crashing continue too. What is common in almost all these occurrences, is that the driver was rash and driving badly.
Even in Mumbai, which normally has amongst the most disciplined traffic in our country, the few motorists who are out there are flouting all traffic rules. Almost nobody is observing traffic lights and most if not all, are driving at speeds well over their skill levels. People are driving on the wrong side and going through junctions without looking or slowing down. It's a free for all with no respect of rules and compliance of traffic laws. The already overburdened police certainly don't need this and it's high time we have some better behaviour on our roads. It's really ironic that while everyone is scared of getting infected with COVID-19, there are still so many who continue to break traffic laws and foolishly lose their lives because of bad and undisciplined driving.
The "Corona Crisis" has shown that most Indians do actually value their lives. Now what's important is we try and stop them from stupidly dying on our roads. Given this, I think we need a new scoreboard. Yes, as we all know Indians are fond of following the scorecard and during the cricket season it's normal to ask, "Score kya hai" or what is the score? Sadly, COVID-19 has brought a new scoreboard into our lives, that of number of infections, deaths and fortunately also recoveries. For almost the last two months, the first thing many of us have been doing the moment we wake up is checking this score. And we keep track of it through the day. I pray that this sad and depressing scoreboard goes away from our lives soon. But I also wish we replace it with another one. A scoreboard that is not flashed every day, but maybe on the 1st of every month. A road safety scoreboard. Yes, a scoreboard that tells us the number of deaths and injuries that took place in the previous month due to road accidents. I have shared many times before that we annually lose over 1.5 lakh people in road fatalities, which is about 410 a day! Unfortunately, not many people are aware of this and even fewer care to change this. Perhaps if they saw this road safety scoreboard flashed prominently every month, it would move at least some people to ride and drive more safely.
And finally as you may have noticed, most Indian trucks have "Keep Safe Distance" painted on the rear. Did these guys know something that the rest of the world did not?