By Dr S V N Vijayendra
Mysuru, June 30:- Around 1.5 lakh people are killed and more than four lakh people are grievously injured annually in road accidents in India and road accident deaths are higher by many folds than COVID-19 deaths. Although there are several basic road safety rules to protect people on the roads, many of these rules are not being followed. This write-up highlights the basic rules and how these are violated.
Whether it is a two-way road or one-way road ‘keep left’ on the road is the basic rule in our country for vehicle movement. However, many vehicles, including two-wheelers, move on the extreme right side or middle of the road even if they are moving at a low speed. This type of ‘Keep right’ attitude is not limited to highways, but also very common on city roads also. Such vehicles force others to overtake from the wrong side. Using indicators (either hand signals or through indicators) is the driver’s most important activity to indicate his/her action. Giving hand signals almost vanished, and many do not give any indication at all.
Some (mainly two-wheelers and autos) forget to switch off the signal after taking the turn (as buzzer becomes non-functional), giving a wrong impression to the vehicles following them. Replacing the non-functional buzzer may not cost much but avoids a lot of risk to other road users. Driving in both directions on either side of the dividers became quite common nowadays. Besides, driving in the opposite direction to the flow of the traffic on the left side of the road is also increasing due to lack of patients to riders or drivers to wait at the crossing and take the correct lane. This is outrightly against road safety.
Wearing a helmet (ISI certified) or seat belt is the primary safety gadget for drivers themselves in the event of an accident. However, most of them are ignoring to wear it, even if they have one with them while driving. Not wearing it attracts a penalty. We have borrowed the technology of mobile phones from other countries but missed to learn how and when to use them. Though it is mandatory not to talk on mobile while riding or driving, many are continuing it, thinking that they can do what they want. God only knows what is urgent to talk without even taking the vehicle aside and stopping it.
If it is an emergency, they can stop the vehicle aside and continue their journey after completing the call. Although it is mandatory to keep the registration number visible clearly on both sides of the vehicle, having fancy number plates with all types and sizes of fonts, bending, or pasting tape to hide the digits is very common.
Overtaking is prohibited at turns and curves but not followed by many. Taking U-turn, where it is prohibited, is quite common, and such people argue if caught. The best spot for such violation on both sides is very close to K R Circle on D Devaraja Urs Road in Mysuru City. Parking on highways and main roads, especially when service roads are provided, is not advisable. However, many park their vehicles, especially trucks, on main throughways, not bothering the movement of other vehicles.
In case of an emergency or the event of a breakdown, parking lights must be switched on to caution the vehicles coming behind. The use of high beam lights within city limits is prohibited by law. However, many ignore it quietly even at city centres, which have proper illumination and make the visibility of the road tough to vehicles coming in the opposite direction. Such people even do not respond when the opposite vehicle flashes ‘dipping and dimming’ of their headlights. This shows the arrogance of violators of such a basic road safety rule.
Entering the crossroad from the wrong direction or waiting at extreme left and taking a turn towards the extreme right side is against road safety rule. However, it is quite commonly seen in many places. Parking at wrong places (road turnings, curves, secondary parking, parking in the middle of the road near shops blocking the path for two-wheelers to come out of the parking area, etc.) blocks the passage and visibility for other vehicles. Not bothering about other vehicles, many do park at such locations and leave the place quietly.
Keeping road safety in view, overloading vehicles with either people (triple/quadruple ride on two-wheelers) or oversized luggage, or protruding sharp objects are prohibited. However, it is being continued on our roads. Whether traffic police is there or not at the circle, jumping the red signal and stopping on zebra lines, which is banned by law, is quite common for some road users. There is always a chance for accident or inconvenience to other road users, respectively, in such violations. In terms of road safety, overspeeding, zig-zag driving, especially of high-end bikes with a roaring noise or wheeling by two-wheelers, is not at all acceptable on the roads.
However, unfortunately, many youths indulge in it on main roads to show their skills. Footpaths are meant for the use of pedestrians but not for two-wheelers. Still, many two-wheelers are driven on footpaths, especially in cities, to avoid traffic. Driving after drinking alcohol means inviting troubles to self and to other road users. It is a pity that in spite of the steep hike in fine for this violation, several cases are being booked for drunk driving.
Human errors are the main cause of 95% of road accidents, and most of these are avoidable. Hence, vehicle users need to be cautious on the roads, especially when the vehicular density is increasing in the country. The number of deaths and injuries in road accidents may or may not bother society. However, the death of an individual is a jolt to the family of the victim of a road accident, in terms of suffering and earnings to the family, especially if the victim is the breadwinner of the family. Hence, drive safe and let others live safely.
(The writer is a regular contributor to City Today and Traffic Warden and member, City Traffic Advisory Committee, Mysuru)