Big bullies

The road accidents involving the buses, particularly those of the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), are on the rise in Bangalore city and it is a matter of great concern. Statistics reveal that BMTC buses were directly involved in 240 accidents, including 47 fatal ones, till August 31 this year alone. Most of the accidents have been blamed on reckless driving on the part of the BMTC drivers. BMTC drivers claim they are forced to drive fast as they have absurd timetables and deadlines to follow, which are hard to meet given the heavy traffic on our congested roads today. It is true too that drivers are overworked and the stress of driving through jammed roads makes them vulnerable to errors of judgment. However, pressure to stick to schedules cannot be an excuse for rash and negligent driving. Drivers are in a position of responsibility. They have in their hands the lives of at least a hundred passengers on board their bus and many times that number on the roads.

BMTC bus drivers act like big bullies on the road. They jump traffic lights, disrespect lane discipline and intimidate pedestrians and drivers of two-wheelers. It is not uncommon to see BMTC buses running drivers of smaller vehicles — especially if they are women — off the roads, just for the fun of it. It is not unusual either to see BMTC buses racing each other or stopping to pick up or drop passengers just about anywhere they please, rather than at the appointed bus stop. None of these acts of recklessness that endanger lives of people have anything to do with pressure of deadlines. What encourages drivers to be reckless is the fact that they get away with light punishment even when they cause ghastly accidents.

BMTC’s image has improved remarkably in recent years. It is among the few profit-making public bus corporations in the country. Its buses have grown in number and improved in appearance. But all these achievements amount to nothing if the buses continue their murderous record on the roads. The problems are not hard to fix. New timetables that are achievable without speeding should be drawn up and drivers trained to respect road rules. Those who have accident-free records should be rewarded, while negligent driving and bullying behaviour on roads must receive stringent punishment.

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