It's a dangerous balancing act

Overcrowded Autos

It's a dangerous balancing act

Probably one of the most common laws flouted in the City — and one which has been steadfastly ignored by many Bangaloreans for years now — is the matter of overcrowding autorickshaws.

Although strictly speaking, only three people are allowed to sit in an autorickshaw at one point of time, neither passengers not drivers suffer any pangs of guilt when it
comes to breaking this rule on occasion.

Autorickshaw drivers generally charge a little extra — in the event that a policeman happens to notice the number of people in his auto — and allow five or six people to crowd the vehicle at one point of time.

Metrolife speaks to a few Bangaloreans to find out the potential dangers of this behaviour and steps that can be taken to prevent it.

Sushil Unni, a relationship counsellor, feels that the basic problem is that packing an autorickshaw with more passengers is a win-win situation — both the drivers as well as the passengers themselves.

While the drivers can charge a little extra for additional people, passengers can cut down on the cost of hiring a separate rickshaw. “There are, of course, many dangers to overcrowding a vehicle like this. People feel they are saving a few bucks by not taking an extra auto but what they don’t realise is that this is a three-wheeler and has certain limits. If the vehicle is overcrowded, it could easily topple at turnings.

Besides posing a risk to the driver and passengers, it’s also hazardous for other motorists and pedestrians on the road. And while it certainly is the duty of the police to enforce the law in this regard, people have to think twice before overcrowding an auto as well,” he reasons.

Suman Boro, a student, feels that this problem is locality-specific. Autorickshaw drivers get more reckless about the number of people they ferry, he reasons, when they are confident that policemen of the area will either be lenient with them, or absent altogether.

“It doesn’t happen very often in Electronic City, where I live, but I have occasionally seen crowded autos during peak office hours. It’s fairly common in Ulsoor — and
I’ve also noticed that drivers tend to pack more passengers into their autos when they’re travelling on interior roads, where there are less policemen,” he reflects, adding that it’s rare to see such instances on roads like Outer Ring Road, which is frequently monitored by policemen.

One of the reasons why passengers don’t think twice about breaking this law is probably that they don’t believe it could lead to any serious repercussions.

Sowmya, a student, admits, “Actually, my friends and I have done that once —
overcrowded an autorickshaw, that is — because it was late at night and we had no alternate means of transport. But it’s different when people do it on an everyday basis. It’s obvious that no one takes the dangers of doing this very seriously.”

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