An unsafe journey

An unsafe journey

Those who regularly travel by an autorickshaw say that they have to battle two problems — overcharging and the driver picking up random people who are travelling in the same
direction.

       Overloaded vehicles definitely attract heavy fines, but sharing an auto doesn’t
really get noticed because there’s usually not more than three passengers at a time.         
People who live in areas such as Mariyanapalya, Cox Town, Dodda Gubbi and RT Nagar say that they are sometimes forced to share rides with total strangers.

Both women and men admit they have had their share of bad experiences when sharing an auto with strangers.

Observing this, Viny, a professional, says, “I make it a point not to share my ride with anyone because I feel it is unsafe. While the auto driver ends up making some fast money, the passengers feel uncomfortable. Autos should never be shared, unless in case of an emergency.”

There are several instances when the auto driver stops for people when there’s already a passenger seated inside. If a person is headed in the same direction as the one sitting inside, then the driver obliges to take the new passenger, observes Namrata H, a professional, a resident of Cox Town.

     She recollects an incident when she hailed an auto from MG Road to Indiranagar
and the driver picked up one of his acquaintances along the way. “I was terrified because
the person who got in was a man. I usually never share an auto with anybody but that day, it was late and I had to wait for a long time to get an auto,” she says.

There are a few people who believe that one has to think twice before one boards an autorickshaw after dark. Increased instances of mugging and overcharging have got men to think about taking an auto late at night.

     Bharath, who works in a private company and a resident of Dodda Gubbi, points out that you never know if the stranger hitching a ride is a person in need of the ride or
someone the auto driver knows.

   “Auto drivers always invite strangers in between a trip and charge both parties and try to earn some extra money. I don’t mind sharing the ride if it is an emergency but I do not think it is a safe thing especially for women,” says Bharath. 

    “We read of incidents like gang robbery and I always wonder if these strangers who step in are known to the driver,” he adds.

      Echoing Bharath’s views, Mirshad, another youngster, says, “After reading a lot of cases of theft and mugging in autorickshaws, I’ve stopped sharing autos with strangers. It is better to be safe than sorry.”

Officials with the transport department point out that cases of autorickshaws carrying more than three passengers attract a fine amount and the driving licence and vehicle permit are liable for cancellation.

      “When such cases are caught by the traffic police and referred us, we immediately cancel the vehicle permit, because overloading must be discouraged. It jeopardises the safety of passengers whether men or women,” reasons Rame Gowda, Transport
Commissioner.

      He feels people must opt for cabs rather than travel by an autorickshaw when it late.

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