Driving/Riding Rash and CARELESSLY, puts Citizens Life in Danger, NEEDLESSLY?

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Driving/Riding Rash and CARELESSLY, puts Citizens Life in Danger, NEEDLESSLY?

This article is dedicated to 16-year-old Nikitha Cutinha, a II year PUC student at St Aloysius PUC-Mangaluru who is still fighting for her life in the Intensive Care Unit {ICU} at AJ Hospital-Mangaluru , and in order to bring awareness among the motorists NOT to drive rash, recklessly and Carelessly, thereby putting citizens life in danger, Needlessly. Team Mangalorean prays that she recovers from this pain and agony, and returns home soon.

Mangaluru: Sixteen-year-old girl Nikitha Cutinha, a resident of Kapikad-Bejai, Mangaluru, and an II PUC student at St Aloysius Pre-University College-Mangaluru who was hit by car driven carelessly by a Bengaluru Lady at Derebail in City, remains still critical in ICU at AJ Hospital-Mangaluru. As per an eyewitness, it is learnt that Nikitha was on the footpath, and the car moving at a high speed was on the extreme side of the road, very close to the footpath where the teenage was walking. The driver never applied brakes nor she blow the horn. Looks like driver was on phone or distracted by something else, which led to this accident. It’s been nearly two weeks now, but sadly there has been no improvement in Nikitha’s condition- which has put her father and mother in deep concern and sadness, including her relatives, teachers and classmates and friends.

Nikitha Cutinha

It was an ill-fated day of March 25, 2018 for innocent Nikitha who was walking on the footpath on her way to a grocery store, was knocked down by a car with “L” sticker driven by a lady, when she drove close to the footpath, thereby resulting in severe head injuries to Nikitha, who was quickly rushed to AJ Hospital by a motorist passing that way. As of today, Nikitha is still in ICU fighting for her life. Her mother, Noreen ‘Cutinha’ Crasta who is employed as staff nurse at AJ Hospital ICU section, while her dad, Jerome Cutinha employed in Gulf, who has come down now,- they both are in terrible shock and depressed, and anxiously waiting for their precious one and only daughter to recover from unconsciousness.

Speaking to Team Mangalorean with tears in her eyes, Nikitha’s mother Noreen ‘Cutinha’ Crasta said, “Me and my husband are totally devastated. She is our only precious daughter, who is so smart and active in various academics and co-curricular activities. This tragedy shouldn’t have stuck her at this tender age. My humble request to all the motorists to think about themselves, their family members at home and also other citizens when they are behind the wheel, and not to drive/ride recklessly putting others lives in harm. I wish that no other parents have to go through what we are experiencing right now, due to the carelessness of a driver, which has put our innocent daughter in pain”. I wish that all the motorists reading this emotional message from this heart-broken mother will take it serious, and be careful while driving or riding. Thank You!

So who is to blame for Nikitha’s present serious condition? None other than the Carelessness and Rash driving of the lady. Period! If you go around in the City, and visit ICU or emergency/Casualty departments of various hospitals, you will find victims who are battling for their lives due to accidents, either due to the fault of others, or due to their own carelessness while driving or riding. No doubt rash and carelessness driving make city roads unsafe- and for that matter the Traffic Police department has not done enough to control it. When you look at the news in the media, the number of accidents due to rash driving in the city has nearly doubled in the last couple of years. The number of cases booked for rash driving too has doubled, as per police source. Young riders with high-speed motorbikes are among the major offenders in these cases.

Yes, vehicle population in the city has been increasing rapidly, totaling a few lakhs. Added to this there is a sharp rise in the number of high-speed motorbikes, and with foreign brand vehicles easily available, you see many youngsters zooming past you on city roads, putting others life in risk. Traffic police officials said that most offenders in rash driving cases were youngsters, especially college students. “Around 70% of rash driving cases are booked on college students,” said a traffic police cop who patrols Hampankatta/Light House Hill Road, and MG Road, where there are many colleges. “Most cases booked against college students are for drunk driving, speeding and rash driving. When a two-wheeler goes out of control, it generally crashes into the median or pavement,” said the policeman.

The only way to reduce the accidents due to rash and drunken driving is to impose heavy fines and if repeated seize the vehicles and as well as the Licence to drive or else nothing can be done and will the Govt. do it is the BIG ????? The only way…make it strict laws, or seize the license…and fine up 10 K…then see the difference.That’s the Only way to stop this idiotic driving. Many motorists don’t fear police, simply because there is a way to escape.The reason strict laws wont be implemented is because many of the police cannot be bribed. The other income for most of the police men is cut off….with all the technology in the world cant we not implement strict laws, like other countries. We copy many other things/ways from foreign countries, so why not copy foreign traffic rules?.

Negligent driving is another growing concern in the city. “Breaking signals and not following traffic rules account for most negligent driving accidents. Most violators are two-wheeler riders. The idea of having a signal is to reduce human effort. But, people feel that manual signaling is more efficient than automated signals because many two-wheeler riders don’t bother to stop at the red lights. A fine of Rs 100 for violation is nothing for many- so they keep on breaking the traffic rules. A two-wheeler rider is fined a mere 100 for not wearing a helmet. The fines for drunk and rash driving are also meager. The government should increase the fine levied on violators of traffic rules, only then probably we could see a decrease in accidents and loss of lives and injuries.

India has the highest rate of road accident deaths for any country in the world, and among Indian States, Karnataka is somewhere in the top league. What needs to be done to curb this peril? Most of the traffic accidents are the result of indiscipline, ignorance of the rules and neglect and disobedience, both at the individual level by the drivers and the society at large. This cannot be checked unless we impose strict penalties and ensure compulsory training for all. The authorities need to be much more vigilant and strict in regulating traffic and enforcing rules.

Neither the public nor the authorities respect the basic rules such as for pedestrian crossing. More pronounced is the lack of awareness even among driving school personnel and the instructors. Our entire driver training process needs a revamp with stricter rules. Basics such as the use of proper signals, lane discipline and the importance of the zebra crossing are not taught by instructors, resulting in lack of basic knowledge among drivers. Road ethics have to be a part of the training and the trainers themselves have to be trained first, and then the public.

Teach traffic rules, road discipline and ethics in our schools. How to behave in public is not at all taught anywhere and the young generation is unaware of it. Giving proper training in discipline and ethics to all and enforcing the rules strictly are the only way to reduce accidents. Vehicles meet with accidents because of mistakes on the part of drivers as also mechanical trouble or lack of maintenance. At the age of 16, one can acquire the driving licence for two-wheelers and at 18, for other vehicles. But who tests his/her driving expertise, as one can purchase the licence by bribing officials? Why not increase the age limit for driving licence for heavy vehicles and prescribe an age limit 65 for stopping all driving?

Rash driving and its terrible consequences have been discussed and debated for long. But it is saddening to note that not much has been done to curb this issue, as we are still seeing the steep rise in road accidents, right here in out town. The problem points to both the condition of our roads and of our drivers. All the drivers out there are certainly not experts. Driving while in a bad mood or when one is under stress or is suffering from illness is sure to lessen one’s concentration. People should opt for public transport in such cases. Breaking the rules seems to be the hobby of the present generation of drivers.

Strict enforcement of traffic rules is needed. How often do we see people riding with mobile phones glued to their ears? Or vehicles parked right under no parking boards? What about the reckless overtaking by private buses which race against each other? Yet another main cause of accidents here is over-speeding, overtaking from the wrong side, and drivers not taking into account our road conditions before speeding. In most of the accident reports, we can see the reason for the tragedy mentioned as the driver having lost control of the vehicle. It points to over-speeding due to which the driver loses control.

The laws in our penal code punish the rash and negligent driver. But it is high time we took measures to avert circumstances that lead to rash and negligent driving. One finds that the time of the driving plays a crucial role. Usually, major accidents occur either late at night or during peak hours. One may be careful while driving but that itself may not avert accidents. Sometimes, the driver of the vehicle coming from the opposite side may be sleepy. In such cases, blowing the horn may alert the sleepy driver. The person sitting next to the driver also plays a vital role. His alertness may help the driver.

Another problem that has been noticed in our Smart City- The breadth of roads has remained the same while the number of vehicles on roads has increased manifold. Reducing the traffic density by having specific plans, designed with a long-term perspective is the need of the hour. Police personnel should be deployed near schools and colleges in the morning and evening hours. The law has to be amended to mete out the toughest possible punishment to those causing accidents due to carelessness. However, the most important and long-term solution is educating the drivers and sensitizing them on the consequences of negligence.

Yes, an accident is, of course, an unexpected event. One of the essential ingredients of crime, that is, intention, is absent in the case of an accident. However, in cases where a road accident involves two vehicles, the larger vehicle is assumed to be in the wrong. In cases where the driver of the larger vehicle is not ready to plead guilty he has to prove that it was not because of his fault that the accident occurred. Since it is almost impossible to bring in such proof, the driver of the larger vehicle pleads guilty, pays a small fine and goes free. The injury to persons or damage to property are taken care of by insurance companies. This has become an almost established practice in India.

The drivers of motor vehicles are quite comfortable with this arrangement. The level of comfort is such that the drivers pay little attention to safe driving. The fine involved is hardly a deterrent to rash driving. If heavy fines are prescribed in cases where rash and negligent driving is admitted, the number of accidents will certainly come down. The fine should be a certain percentage of the insurance claim. If this system is introduced, drivers will certainly take more care while driving lest they have to shell out their hard earned money by way of fine.

The loss of human lives in accidents has led to a blame game. The pedestrian blames the two-wheel rider, a two-wheeler rider a four-wheeler, a four-wheeler driver blames heavy vehicles, tippers, trucks, trailers and container carriages. Thereafter, all in unison, blames the government. We do not see any in-depth study and preventive steps being taken from any quarter. The almost total absence of road sense and civic consciousness among the road users seems to be the root cause. Cyclists and two-wheelers overtaking a four-wheeler from the left is a common sight. Pedestrians can be seen crossing a busy road nonchalantly. Reckless driving at high speed even on narrow roads is a common site. The government’s handling of road repair works seems to be inadequate and unscientific. Let us hope that there will be a sea change in our approach to the problem.

A careful study of accidents reveals that most of them occur during the wee hours. Vehicles plying on the National Highways with headlights at full beam, blinding the drivers from the opposite side could be one reason for accidents. Our highways are poorly lit, hence parking of vehicles on highways without the parking lights switched on has caused many accidents. Lack of proper traffic signs on the roads increases the risk. Last but not the least, the villain is the bad roads which are not maintained properly. Narrow roads add to the misery of the driving community.

The reasons are not far to seek. The truck/lorry/tipper driver is contemptuous of the bus driver who looks down on the auto driver who pooh poohs the bike rider, who is disdainful of the pedestrians and all others on the road. Everyone feels that the whole road belongs to him and he alone has the right of way. Unless this mindset changes, there is scant hope of the scenario improving. Everyone should realize the road belongs to all and that one should peacefully co-exist with the other. Monitoring should be strengthened by authorities. The first offence should attract hefty fines and the second one must lead to cancellation of licence for six months or more, depending on the gravity of the crime. While these laws are followed in Western and Gulf countries, why not strictly implement here too.

Having traveled to many countries and lived in USA for nearly two decades, what I find most disturbing in our traffic rules and enforcement is the total absence of clearly defined rules and their enforcement. Crowds and drivers interpret and implement the rules at their own will. A vehicle driver and a pedestrian have equal rights to roads and we need the laws clearly defined and enforced here. For example, there are always “right of way” rules clearly defined in all countries and whenever an accident happens, the culprit is the person who has broken the rule and it does not matter whether he or she is a pedestrian crossing at unmarked places or a two or three-wheeler driver or a car driver.

Signboards at every junction indicate who has the right of way and who have to wait. Here what matters is the size of the vehicles involved. Pedestrians and two and three-wheelers are always the affected party even if they broke the rule. Why don’t we stick to rules and enforce them strictly. If the penalties levied is high the more benefit for the officials. If anybody demands for the official receipt for the penalties automatically the penalties will be cut off. If you compare the fines and consequences a motorist faces for drunk driving in USA or Gulf is unbelievable when compared to here. Here even if a drunk driver knocks down and kills a person, he pays a small fine of Rs 3000-5000, gets bail, small punishment and he is back on the road again, to kill more people.

But that’s not the case in USA or Gulf- if there is a fatality due to drunk driving, the driver gets jail term no matter what, and even is licence is revoked permanently. The first thing what our traffic cops do here when there is an accident-they will not file a FIR unless they know who the driver is- if he/she is a rich or influential person, then things will be taken easy. Only a common person indulged in an accident will face all kind of harassment from our lovely and corrupt policemen? Bah hambug?

In conclusion, in spite of the observance of Road Safety Week or the conduct of road safety awareness campaigns, accidents are still on the rise, and no one cares about it either. Carelessness stemming from unnecessary haste and lack of patience is the root cause of all accidents. Drivers are required to concentrate thoroughly during the whole journey. Places of public importance such as schools, hospitals, markets are areas where the speed of vehicles is to be controlled. The pedestrians on the roads are to be permitted to use zebra-crossing by the speeding vehicles. It’s about time now, that traffic fines need to be increased, traffic police should be strict without showing partiality to anyone or not be corrupt accepting bribes, police should follow strict procedures as per Traffic section codes, and impound vehicles who are repeated traffic rules violators or revoke their drivers licences. Only then we could see a difference and SAVE LIVES!

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1 Comment

  1. Alfie your detailed report of this accident made me cry for this poor girl and her parents. My heartfelt sympathies to them.

    Edwin D’Souza Angelore USA.

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