Make roads safer, rein in rogue drivers

Make roads safer, rein in rogue drivers

Bengaluru shrank in horror in reaction to Thursday’s accident in which a tanker ruthlessly mowed down a bike rider and a pedestrian at a signal light on Airport road near Hebbal. Several were badly injured when the tanker inexplicably ran over the pedestrians who were legally crossing the road when it was their turn at the green light. A bike which had stopped at the signal was the first to go under the tanker. The victims had to pay a terrible price for being law-abiding citizens. The tanker driver, on the other hand, came across as a maniac – zipping as he came down the flyover, and then continuing to speed after ramming into the pedestrians. He had to be apprehended at the next signal where he, thankfully, stopped the tanker.

Not a day goes by without an accident of some sort, but what marks out the Hebbal tragedy is the utter criminality of it. Every once in a while, Bengalureans are shaken out of their complacency when an accident of this nature occurs. For a while some soul-searching is attempted, the government makes promises, the traffic police go into an overdrive and some lessons are seemingly learnt. Unfortunately, these are short-lived and the near-lawlessness returns to the road. Isn’t it time that the government, now under Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, works out something in consultation with the police to make the city’s roads safer? Pedestrians, for one, are the most vulnerable. Though a few skywalks have been built, pedestrians are mostly left to the mercy of the traffic. At many signal crossings, they have to nip between waiting vehicles to get to the other side, with no lights or zebra crossing to assist them. Where there are footpaths they are mostly unusable for a variety of reasons, forcing people to walk on the road. 

What, however, is at the heart of the city’s traffic curse is the abysmal culture of driving and lack of road sense. In no other major city of the size of Bengaluru will one find people driving on the wrong side of the road, but that is completely normal here. Drivers obey signals most reluctantly, often pushing through even before the lights turn green. For pedestrians, this can be a nightmare as they have to use their latent athletic powers to cross safely. It would take the world’s top psychologists, for instance, to figure out what caused the tanker driver to show utter disregard for human lives. The law should be applied to the maximum not only to punish him but to hopefully act as a deterrent to other rogue drivers.
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