By Richard Lasrado
Pics: Team Mangalorean
Mangalore, Mar 26: Every dawn seems to usher in a feeling of depression these days.
Leave alone the stories of political chicanery, machinations, shenanigans and so on, reports of murders, street-fights etc., which one gets to read in the morning newspapers, the most upsetting headlines these days involve deaths and dismemberment on our roads. Hundreds of innocent lives are being lost in our own district every year.
Much hope was raised when PCR vehicles, interceptors and highway patrol vehicles were introduced by the police recently.
Breathalyzers have not succeeded in reducing drunken driving. Nothing seems to bring down the number of deaths and permanent loss of limbs or partial physical disabilities on our roads.
No amount of compensation by way insurance can alleviate the permanent pain and agony of those who have suffered in the accidents and of their dependents.
One just has to watch from the wayside the way people drive these days. The heavy trucks bullying the buses, buses bullying the smaller four-wheelers, four-wheelers bullying the three-wheelers and the three-wheelers bullying two-wheelers and all of them put together scaring the pedestrians to death - all this making a picture perfect of a veritable madhouse.
The roadhogs rule the day, all through the day, that is. And, for good measure, the night too. Take the case of a Bolero vehicle that went on a demolition spree at the Pumpwell circle in the city around 11-30 pm on Friday, March 26. The pictures say it all. There were not many eyewitnesses to the incident.
At least those limited persons who had the misfortune of witnessing the ghastly mishap were sure the driver of the vehicle was highly inebriated. First he mowed down an unidentified pedestrian opposite Hotel Pentagon near the Pumpwell roundabout, killing him on the spot.
Obviously, in a panicky state, he appeared to have sped away on NH 17 southwards. He was at least in his senses well enough to escape from the law, as he thought. But not far enough.
At Yekkur, hardly a few kilometres further, his vehicle collided head-on with a mini-lorry transporting fish. The front sides of both vehicles were smashed. Nazeer, the driver of the lorry, sustained injuries and was admitted to a hospital while two other occupants escaped unhurt.
The driver of Bolero is said to have fled the place. It is not known if he has been hurt. Nor do we know the identity of the person. The police have seized the vehicle. The registration number could lead them to the right person to get their hands on - unless, as it often happens, it is a stolen vehicle sporting a fake number-plate.
Reining in the roadhogs
Now, coming to a more general issue, is it not possible to rein in these roadhogs and merchants of death? We have some well-intentioned men of vision in charge here. It is high time the deputy commissioner, the city commissioner of police, the superintendent of police, the mayor, the MLAs and the MCC commissioner put their heads together to stop this mayhem on the roads.
This writer happened to sit in the mayor's chamber some years ago and discuss the menace of the city buses. He threw his hands up and said - off the record, of course - that it was a mafia running the buses in the district and he would not be able to do anything!
What can be done
Maybe all the officials mentioned above, in coordination, could do us a world of good and save many innocent lives. Some of the steps suggested by a few citizens are worth considering
1. Ensure lane discipline and impose fine on heavy vehicles and two-wheelers and autorickshaws consistently using the fast lanes, esp. on highways.
2. Create awareness that all vehicles should halt and proceed at circles and also give priority to traffic approaching from the right hand side.
3. Get the motorists to develop respect for the zebra crossing and its importance.
4. Strict control over two-wheelers overtaking from the left hand side
5. Create speed-breakers near important circles and intersections
6. Control over the speeding of buses within the city and ban on blaring of horns and nonstop, loud blowing of whistles by bus conductors at every stop
There could be many more, if more citizens could come up with suggestions.
If this fervent appeal works, our day is done.
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