This morning as I was getting ready for work, the TV was tuned into a regional news telecast. The news item was about a road accident. A truck (lorry here) had struck a family on a two-wheeler. The father and infant (4 months old) were in serious condition. The mother and the other kid (2.5 years old) died.
I felt sorry for the family…yes. Though what went through my mind and what made me write about this is “who really was responsible for this accident?” I don’t generally swear, but trust me when one drives in the roads of Chennai; even the most gentle person would be swearing! Driving, the roads, utter lack of acknowledgement to rules is pathetic to say the least. This is not about all that though. What hits one in the face is the lack of value for human life. No one bothers!
Two-wheelers – they are easy to buy, easy to use and in the city traffic – weaving in & out gives a fast means to travel. No doubt! Wearing a helmet is (or is my usage of tense wrong here and should it be “was”) mandatory. Very few actually wear one! It is weird to actually see people amused when I used to make A wear his the last 2.5 years that I have been riding on a bike here and taking him along. It supposedly is quite a sight to see a kid wear a helmet!!! Doesn’t that alone show how pathetic the value of human life is?! Or are we all born with hard heads?!!
Why do I feel so strongly that the truck driver alone is not to blame?! He might be speeding and that is wrong. Deaths occured. Why did a family of 4 travel on a two-wheeler? I am very sure that the woman on the pillion, the toddler nor the infant sported helmets. The man might have (a very slim possibility) worn one. The woman would have sat with both legs to one side (supposedly lady- like) holding the infant. The 2.5 year old must have been in front of the father who was riding. Why am I so sure this would have been the case? This is quite a common site all across the city! So, say the truck is travelling at a permissible speed, the father with 3 others precariously perched on the bike comes in front… what happens? Of course an accident! The guy cannot manoeuver his bike with all. The truck driver, even if he had applied the brakes, cannot make his vehicle stop in an instant! Is it right that the truck driver takes the blame cos he drives a bigger vehicle? cos truck drivers are stereo-typed to be rash in their driving?
I do not say that truck drivers here are saints. Their driving would take a whole new post or many!! I just want to say that people must take their safety into consideration. Wear helmets. I know all cannot afford a car or hire an auto (tuk-tuk). Why not use the public transport? The buses are subsidised, safer (to an extent, certainly more than loading on to a two-wheeler). It might be an inconvenience to start early to take into account the unreliability of the timings of buses but it definitely scores over losing one’s life!
Hope this incident is a wake up call to the police officials here to enforce stricter rules especially when it comes to the safety of children. Child seats in cars are not mandatory. They can sit in the front seat in a car. None of them wear helmets (those that are made to wear one are looked upon as exhibit pieces!!) Child safety on the roads of Chennai again would be another long rant post….
Enough of blaming the truck driver alone for irresponsible driving , blame the family for being irresponsible. I sympathise for their losses; but I cannot for once say they are not at fault!!!