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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

cyclist killed on road ..... and the way people respond to road accidents

Thiruvalluvar states that ‘the aim of punishment is deterrence ( which means preventing occurrence of crimes) and prevention of crimes. A good King should hand out punishments in such a manner that criminals are corrected ~ it is not the vengeance of the Society on them. Law breakers must be dealt with sternly in tune with the crime. People of Tamil Nadu lose no opportunity to brag about their – language, antiquity, culture, care, concern,  hospitality and more……

You might have noticed on some roads a painting stating 304A – which only means that somebody has died on that spot, attributable to rash and negligent driving of a vehicle.  Perhaps you have seen a road accident – what is the immediate reaction – how do we help the victim…. ~ especially when there are bleeding injuries .. in my personal opinion, only autorickshaw drivers come readily offering help … on another day, as we struggled to pull out the driver of a Sumo which had rammed on to a car – the driver was shivering when made to sit on the ground – a young good looking youth, immediately took out his costly woolen sweater – wrapped it around the injured driver and walked away.

Before we read something on killer roads of Chennai ….here is a news-report read elsewhere, which has lots of surprise.  The report recalls the horror with which witnesses described a cyclist flying through the air after being hit by a truck…… some of them tried to help the dying cyclist. Simione Maamaloa was on his way to the beach when he heard a loud bang. He watched in horror as a cyclist flew through the air before going underneath a truck, its driver oblivious to the collision at one of Auckland's busiest intersections. Police are investigating how and why the collision occurred, but revealed last night the truckie had the green light at the intersection.

The truck reportedly stopped about  70m down the road after the driver was alerted by other motorists.  Those who rushed to help, could do little as they saw the young man breathing, mumbling and dying.  A female tourist from a cruise ship at the harbour nearby was distraught after witnessing the collision, which happened about 2.15pm at the corner of Parnell Rise and Stanley St. It is stated that  truck driver, who had the green light, did not know the cyclist had come under his wheels until being alerted by other motorists tooting their horns.

The death is described as a tragedy ~ reports state that cycling deaths with trucks are becoming a real worry. Quite honestly, it's just a horrendous accident because cyclists are so vulnerable when the scale between the truck and cyclist is so appallingly different. It's just not safe having the two modes sharing the same stretch of road."

Death is no doubt tragic ….this death has been specially reported in NZ press (what I have reported is courtesy NZ Herald web edition)….. at a later part you realize what I am trying to state.  In Auckland in 2012 there was one cyclist killed and 205 injured. Nationally there were eight killed and 828 injured. The numbers were similar for the previous four years. There is so much concern !!

Back in our beautiful land, we have made giant strides in galloping speed in the field of automobile and transportation ~ you see billions of vehicles of all hues on city roads – no more pedal cycles and bullock carts but only modern automobiles – the best of brands of the World vie on the streets.  Sadly, India holds the dubious distinction of registering the highest number of road accidents  and Chennai tops the list…

Sec 304 of Indian Penal code prescribes punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder; Sec 304A – deals with causing death by negligence.  Generally, law enforcers charge vehicular homicide  under Sec 304A – which attracts a maximum penalty of 2 years in jail …… there are cases of rich and famous driving on pavements killing people too ……  there would be  hair-splitting process of drawing a fine line between "rash" and "negligent" driving (falling within the charge under the Penal Code) or "reckless" and "dangerous" driving (falling within the charge under the Road Traffic Act)

New Year 2014 heralded – city celebrated – Police were on their toes to prevent incidents at hotspots…… and in the city at least 6 people lost their lives in traffic accidents on that night.  Among those who died in accidents on Tuesday night and early on Wednesday were an engineering student and a 70-year-old pedestrian. Most of the accidents involved people who were drunk or not wearing helmets, police said. Government General Hospital had the largest number of cases as usual, with nearly 70 admissions from Tuesday night through to Wednesday morning. The hospital treated 37 people injured in road accidents, eight hurt in assault, five with fractures sustained in falls and one person with blunt force injury to the abdomen.

Keeping the away the drunken madness – the Chennai city has the most notoriously dangerous roads in the country. Chennai routinely records more fatal accidents than any other city in the country but it bucked the trend last year, when it recorded a steep fall of 13% over 2012. Police recorded a tapering-off in the number of deaths in road accidents in the city, from 1,505 in 2011 to 1,449 in 2012. Police recorded 1,269 deaths in 2013, a drop of 180 over the previous year. Statistics may be encouraging but TOI reports that 24 die every week…………….. in New Zealand, a solitary death has garnered so much space and concern ~ 24 in a week perhaps would only a find obscure place.

The roads of Chennai are apprehended as killing fields with so many accidents getting reported – with some stretches like Tambaram, far off Manali – becoming notorious for the no. of accidents and the casualties. People drive mad, often without control.  Most driver lack or are not aware of the road sense, road discipline, respecting signals and road rules, respecting the other road users, allowing elderly, small and disabled to cross the roads – all these are missing. At every signal, you  can spot vehicles jumping the signals or driving faster when the signal has already closed.  There are fools, [even owning some costly cars] who drive faster behind the ambulance, when the ambulance somehow wades its way through. ~ and now people have their own interpretation for Red – Amber -  Green – it is no longer Stop, look, proceed …. It is Start in Red, drive fast in Green and faster when you see Amber to escape Red.

It is no longer the preserve of one section … almost everyone on road contribute to lawlessness ~ it is a city where we do not respect traffic signals, will not wait  for pedestrians to cross ~ and when traffic stops, every vehicle will over take those standing on the wrongside – occupy the entire breadth of the road, waiting for everybody else to give way……. Sad and it is becoming increasingly difficult to drive on city roads…………….. and Chennai perhaps is not alone !

Sadder still, is the fact that city is becoming increasingly insensitive to accidents ~ not many care to try and help .... some gather out of curiosity and soon disperse running back to their regular chores.......... and perhaps news of accidents are confined to smaller spaces with not many reading / sympathising even..... 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

8th Jan 2014.

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