Citizens' Issues
Death on the Roads
Express highways, freeways, sea links, flyovers, tunnels, monorails or metros. The need for speed never seems to end. 
 
If bigger is better, 
Faster is best. 
So many people 
Are laid to rest.
 
Here is a story I never tire of repeating, even years after my British collaborator, Dennis Taylor, initiated it. A farmer owned a goat; it went its way each day in search of grass. The farmer would follow the goat’s munching trail and bring it back every night. The goat grew bigger, strayed farther, as the farmer grew older. So, he bought a cycle, then a motorbike, finally an expensive car. All to get the goat back at night. The countryside was rough on the car, and the man complained. The municipality made him a nice, motorable road. Speeding down the road one night, the man got killed. An enquiry followed.
 
It was determined that the road had a faulty design and the engineer was to blame. He had to be identified and needed to be fired. On enquiry, it so happened that the engineer, the one who had originally ‘designed’ the road, was the goat.
 
One is bound to ask how many more goats are there in municipalities. I wrote this as I got set to vote in the Mumbai municipal elections.
 
It happens everywhere. In New York, it was the consequence of over-designing. A street was planned in careful detail. Four lanes, two each way. All designed to allow time-saving for motorists passing through. Could anything go wrong?
 
Yes, it could. And it did. Soon, a 12-year old cyclist, Turturro, got knocked down. The driver, one Louis Pascerella, was doing more than 80km an hour. The victim, 10 years later, is still terribly disabled. Then followed many more accidents. Another cyclist died. The mayhem seemed unending.
 
After Turturro was knocked down, issues were raised. The locals warned about the tendency to accelerate on runway-type roads. And in true municipality style, the authorities took ‘action’. They painted some lines on the street. As if that would stop the take-offs. They even named the exercise and called it a ‘Road Diet’. Talk of pulling the wool over your eyes. Four fatal accidents occurred after the Road Diet!
 
You be the judge. What would you do if such a case came to you?
 
Public outcry did help a lot. It took 12 long years but, finally, several changes were made. Special bike paths were put in place. There were refuge islands for those pedestrians who wanted to cross safely, reducing the time they were exposed to danger. Crossing lights were timed long enough for people to walk across, not run. (Commissioners of Police, Traffic, are you listening?).
 
Finally, it was the court that did its bit. But should every problem be taken to overburdened judges? In a landmark ruling which, one hopes, will assist action groups not only in America but across the world, the bench held: “… an unjustifiable delay in implementing a remedial plan constitutes a breach of the municipality’s duty to the public.” The city (municipality) was found liable and ordered to pay $19 million of the $20 million settlement to Turturro. Negligence over time, not negligence in original execution of the plan.
 
If one looks at it, even while each one is trying to stay alive, there are a myriad ways to die. Vehicles care for no law; everyone is confident that palm-grease is a definite solution. Increase in traffic fines means little. The cop, with a straight face, tells you how much more it will cost you to pay a fine. These are the terms in use: ‘settlement’, ‘adjustment’, ‘samajh lo’. Each breach, and a blind eye, brings a child’s, maybe your own, life closer to extinguishment.
 
“If there’s a mishap,
We’ll wait and watch.
Let a few more die,
Then we will launch
One new enquiry, 
And yet another,
Collect lots of paper, 
Then, don’t even bother.”

 

User

COMMENTS

SAGAR RAO

3 months ago

If high speed causes death, then why vehicles are built with speed of 120, 150. Why cant they limited to upto 80. Who wishes to drive all the time at high speed. Also, pedestrians in India are notorious. They want to cross roads or come in front of vehicle when they know they cannot go past vehicles. But still they would do.

T.c. Shivswamy

3 months ago

Greedy govrnments eager to increase taxes and its collection allowing registration of vehicles beyond the capacity of roads and their density crooked driving schools aided by corrupt officials in RTOs,maufacturers pushing their two,three and four wheelers through massive advertisements to attract youth, roads with death traps, freely available liquor shops on all highways and increasing liquor outlets in cities and even rural areas, sleeping governments and Law implementing machinery,with laws veryliberal have all made our country see lakhs of people losing their lives most of them young. No war is needed to kill our people roads are enough.Unless this problem is tackled on a war basis by Nitin and all transport ministers of all states,we need not blame our enemies as we have enough of them.

SRINIVAS SHENOY

3 months ago

Motorists forget their duty towards the pedestrians, who are entitled by law to be given preference while crossing the roads. The laws pertaining to Motor Vehicles should be enforced strictly so as to protect the precious lives of the pedestrians.

SRINIVAS SHENOY

3 months ago

Motorists forget their duty towards the pedestrians, who are entitled by law to be given preference while crossing the roads. The laws pertaining to Motor Vehicles should be enforced strictly so as to protect the precious lives of the pedestrians.

Rajan Vaswani

3 months ago

RTOs during tests, must insist that learners be tested for defensive driving with proper lessons on do's and don'ts in random, simulated situations, like fogs, high beams, night driving, crowded areas and so on, respect people and cars on the road. RTOs can also invest in simulators to test those capabilities, in those simulations.

As our ST buses used to write at the back... "Manacha brake, uttam brake". Very apt.

REPLY

Mohamed Abbas Ali

In Reply to Rajan Vaswani 3 months ago

If they stop taking bribe and do just their defined job, lot of these accidents will stop. You can almost get a license without even going to the RTO. And you can always getaway from the police for not having a license. Go to a rural area find how many do not have license. What road sense can we expect from them expect being righteous?

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User

COMMENTS

SRINIVAS SHENOY

3 months ago

It is a good article and useful to those who are interested in gaining knowledge and improving their prospects.

Terror in heart of London: Five killed in Parliament attack
British police confirmed that deal toll in Wednesday's terror attack outside the Parliament in central London has risen to five.
 
On Wednesday, three people and a terrorist were dead after an attacker brought carnage to central London on Wednesday, mowing down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and hacking at police with knives in the grounds of the Houses of Parliament.
 
Metro Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley told reporters that about 40 people were injured in the attack.
 
Rowley, also London's top anti-terror officer, said that the officer who died in the attack has been named as Keith Palmer, who was 48 and had 15 years service as a police officer.
 
He said he would not comment on the identity of the attacker, although he suggested the police was aware of who the assailant was.
 
The attacker was shot dead after stabbing Palmer. The other three victims were all civilians, the police officer said.
 
At least 40 people were hit on the crowded bridge when a 4x4 drove along the pavement, knocking down pedestrians before crashing into a fence below Big Ben, the local media reported.
 
An intruder, described by a witness as "middle-aged and Asian", then managed to break into the grounds of the Parliament where he fatally stabbed a police officer with two knives, the Daily Mail reported.
 
The policeman died at the scene. The attacker, who was shot by armed officers, died after he was taken to hospital.
 
Prime Minister Theresa May was bundled into her car by a plain-clothes police officer and driven quickly from the scene as the attack unfolded. She will chair a meeting of the Government's emergency Cobra Committee.
 
Scotland Yard said the attack, which comes a year to the day after the terrorist atrocities in Brussels, was being treated "as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise".
 
Witness Jayne Wilkinson said: "We were taking photos of Big Ben and we saw all the people running towards us, and then there was an Asian guy in about his 40s carrying a knife about seven or eight inches long.
 
"And then there were three shots fired, and then we crossed the road and looked over. The man was on the floor with blood.
 
"He had a lightweight jacket on, dark trousers and a shirt. He was running through those gates, towards Parliament, and the police were chasing him."
 
A spokesman for the Port of London Authority, which looks after safety on the River Thames, said: "A female member of the public was recovered from the water near Westminster Bridge. She is alive but undergoing urgent medical treatment on a nearby pier. We believe she fell from the bridge".
 
He said the river has been closed from Vauxhall to Embankment "as part of the security response".
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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