Mr. Late or Late Mr. – A biker’s thoughts on road safety & riding safe
By Sumonto Chatterjee
Years ago on our way to Darjeeling, I was amused to read one of the slogans cautioning drivers on the hills. It read ‘It is better to be Mr. Late than Late Mr.’ Being just a kid, I found it amusing. When it was explained to me, I realized that there was nothing amusing in it. But the implication of the slogan took years to sink in.
The world was a comparatively leisurely, laid back place. Years later when I had bought my first motorbike, things had changed. I became a speed freak. But an accident, in which I was lucky to escape with minor injuries, changed my attitude. The flash back of the slogan painted on the rock-wall of the Darjeeling Himalayas began to haunt me. I gave up speeding for good.
But wouldn’t it be naïve if I presume that the world has become a safer place just because I gave up on speed!
On the contrary, safety on the Indian roads is a fascinating dream. Everyday more the 300 people die in road accidents. Many more are injured and some even become crippled for life. Besides the loss of lives, the financial losses are not trivial. The psychological impact on the families cannot be measured in financial terms.
One of the biggest causes of fatalities on the Indian roads is the unrestrained speed of motorbikes and cars. Given the dilapidated road conditions, the congestion and the crowds, such fatalities are bound to increase. Ignorance (of the general public) of traffic rule stares us in the face once we go out on to the road.
Speeding on motorbikes has become a rage with the youngsters. It might be heroism for them, but it is damnation for the common man. They never care for the safety of others or of themselves. These speedsters are most often the first victims. Many a life has been lost as a result of such uncontrolled speed. One recalls the tragic death of ex-cricketer Azaharuddin’s son as an example.
Technology has improved our lives. We now have fast cars, high speed bikes. Our commuting time to work and back has lessened. But we cannot blame technology for all the accidents and fatalities. These happen because of our irresponsible use of the gift of technology. Flouting traffic rules has become the norm. Jumping traffic lights, speeding through crowded roads are not only irresponsible, it is criminal.
We have done precious little to make our roads safe. We are content to put the onus on the authorities. Never do we think about our own responsibilities. Are we careful about our safety? Are we safe drivers? Do we follow traffic rules? Do we impart safety lessons to our children? Our general apathy becomes evident when we fail to provide accident victims with medical help. Many of the victims would survive if they get timely medical attention. But we want to distance ourselves and play safe. Good Samaritans are hard to find these days!
In today’s world, we have means to make our lives safe. Road safety awareness is of utmost importance. Our co-operation is necessary for implementing road safety measures. Police and medical helplines for emergencies must be made available to the public. Social media can also be a tool to spread awareness for road safety. Another great tool can be Safety Apps (Android & iOS) designed for this purpose, which is capable of sending emergency signals instantaneously to all concerned with relevant and critical information.
It is important for us to be careful when we are on the road. Road safety should be a matter for concern. Reckless speed will never take us to our destination. It is better to be Mr. Late than Late Mr.
In my next blog will cover dos & don’ts for bikers on Indian roads.