Paying a high price for recklessness

Paying a high price for recklessness

Paying a high price for recklessness

Not a week goes by without news of a fatal accident on highways leading and spreading out of Bengaluru. Most highways have turned into death traps claiming the lives of the young and old alike. Here’s what motorists, daily commuters and the average Bengalurean have to say on safety on the highways.

V K Rajashekaran, a retired professor, cites rash driving and overtaking vehicles from the wrong side as major reasons for most accidents on highways. 

Many drivers neither have driving licences nor are they knowledgeable about traffic regulations. Most of them are untrained and have no control over the speed at which they drive or ride and end up causing accidents, he adds.

Low light conditions and trucks parked in the dark are other key causes for accidents. Many a time, trucks are parked haphazardly by the side of the highways. The drivers do not bother to keep the blinkers on. In such cases, motorcyclists fail to notice and end up ramming into the trucks, says Rajashekaran.

While there is a rise in the number of high speed cars and bikes on the streets, Indian roads are not designed to cater to such high end vehicles. This incongruity can lead to many accidents, he says.

H V Nataraj, a bank officer, recounts an accident he had been involved in as nightmarish. The driver of the bus he and his wife were travelling in had fallen asleep at the wheel for a couple of minutes. The bus toppled over, severely injuring many passengers. Overworked drivers of trucks and buses operating with very little sleep are a common occurrence on highways. They hardly stop to think how dangerous the situation can get, he points out.

Shashi Warrier, a novelist and an avid biker, holds poor driver training responsible for most accidents. Highways usually see mixed traffic, with two-wheelers, cars, buses and trucks competing for space on the roads. Human error can prove to be costly when people recklessly overtake slower vehicles on the roads, he says.

Stray animals are another major problem. Animals suddenly stray onto the highways from nearby villages and drivers have to swerve quickly to avoid them and get injured, sometimes fatally, Warrier opines.

Many youngsters today drive high speed bikes without being adequately trained to control them at high speeds. The bikes can easily accelerate to 220-250 km per hour within a few seconds, leaving no time for the rider to react.

Most often youngsters with high speed bikes are held responsible for causing accidents on highways. Reacting to such accusations, M Vivek, co-founder of the Bangalore Bullet Club, a bikers' group, points out that there are barely any facilities in the state for enthusiasts of motor sports to hone their craft.

In Tamil Nadu, a specialised racing track has been built near Sriperumbudur which draws biking enthusiasts from afar. However, in Karnataka, the absence of any such specialised facility forces bikers to take to the highways to indulge in biking activities. The untrained and negligent among such bikers often cause accidents and can injure not just other commuters, but also bystanders who come out to watch the youngsters do stunts on their bikes, he explains.

While most people agree that human error and negligence are major causes of accidents, enforcement of traffic rules by the authorities leaves a lot to be desired. Stricter enforcement of rules can act as a deterrent to prevent highway accidents, many opine. There seems to be a consensus that licences of repeat offenders should be impounded and heavy fines levied to teach violators a lesson.

 Highways usually see mixed traffic, with two-wheelers, cars, buses and trucks competing for space on the roads. Human error can prove to be costly when people recklessly overtake slower vehicles on the roads

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