Menace of drunk driving and minor driving

By S V N Vijayendra

The rank of road traffic injuries among the top 10 leading causes of the global burden of disease has climbed to 3rd position recently from 9th position in the 1990s. Drunk driving is also one of the reasons for road accidents and related deaths and it is risky (RE, CT, 3rd Jan 2018). Though it is a minor cause in terms of a number of deaths and injuries, drunk driving is also considered as one of the major risk factors for road accidents.

In 2017, our country recorded 4,776 deaths and 11,776 injuries in 14,071 drunk driving cases across India. At the state level, Karnataka registered 169 accidents cases associated with drunk driving, 23 deaths and 109 injured cases. Drunk driving may become deadly especially for teens. Drunk driving is more prevalent on highways as liquor is easily available on highways. Even the Supreme Court orders are also not that effective in controlling the drunk driving menace. 

Alcohol can hinder the ability to make rational decisions and the driver under the influence of alcohol loses coordination between vision, breaks, foot and hand and the actions to apply breaks, etc., and it delays the decision making. Safe driving always requires the ability to concentrate, make good judgments and quickly react to situations.

According to Indian Motor Vehicle Act, a person should not drive if the alcohol content in his/her blood crosses 30 mg per 100 ml and the crash chances double when it crosses 50 mg/100 ml (RE, CT 14th July 2017). During the current road safety week on 5th February 2019, Mysuru Traffic Police have booked 142 drunk driving cases and collected fine from them indicating that these drivers are not bothered about road safety.

Though yet to be implemented, Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2017 has made provision for stricter penalties for various traffic rule violations including drunk driving to strengthen enforcement and ensure greater compliance for road safety. Unlike in the past, now taxi services are available plenty and instead of taking the risk of drunk driving, they can opt for the services of these taxis and save other lives and property. 

Minor driving is another kind of violation that can be seen even in our city. Sometimes minor children bring their parents’ vehicles onto the road without informing them and in some other cases, parents are encouraging them to drive even on city roads. Both these types are punishable under Indian Motor Vehicle Act and last year Hyderabad Court sent the parents of the 35 teenagers (minors) who were caught driving on city roads without any license to jail  (RE, CT 30th March 2018). Later in July last year, Jaipur Police also contemplated sending the parents to jail for letting their minor aged wards for driving the vehicles.

According to official data, 18,738 road crashes were committed by minors in 2016 in India and out of these, over 5,000 crashes were fatal in nature. More than 130 minor riders were killed in accidents in Hyderabad alone in 2017 and the police have collected Rs 7,23,900 in fine in 2016 alone. According to data from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, 10,622 persons under the age of 18 lost their lives to road crashes in India, accounting for 29 deaths on average every day. Among the dead, 3,417 deaths were of those children/adolescents themselves, who were driving the vehicle.

Many a time, triple riding by minors (without licence and helmet) is also seen on city roads. Some time back a minor girl riding a two-wheeler amid traffic in busy Shivrampet road was also noticed. Immaturity and inexperience are the primary causes of the increased risk of teenage (minor) driving. Parents should be aware of these facts and be watchful on their wards instead of facing the music by the law and the courts. The more rigid rule with a heavy penalty is needed to curb the minor riding. (The writer is Traffic Warden and member, City Traffic Advisory Committee, Mysuru)

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