Millennium Post

Get set Crash

Believe it or not, one person is killed every four minutes in road accidents in India and each day more than 548 people die on the killer roads, out of which almost around five people become the victims of road rage incidents in the Capital, on a daily basis.

It’s evident that roads in India, everyday, become the place of frequent deaths which equals the total number of deaths taken together that took place in Kollam temple fire tragedy and Kolkata flyover mishap. 

According to the data given by World Health Organisation, around two lakh people had died in the country in 2015. And the data maintained by the Delhi Police reveals that out of 1,532 people died in 2015, 1,496 died in fatal accidents that took place across the city.

Siddharth Sharma (32), a business executive who was killed by a speeding Mercedes car driven by a juvenile in Civil Lines area in North Delhi, is one of the five people who are mowed down every day in the national Capital by the errant drivers. In a tragic rerun of Merc hit and run case, an over speeding BMW allegedly driven by a gym trainer in Delhi, killed one and injured three in Noida sector 24 on April 16. The accused 

surrendered before the court on Sunday and was granted bail. Well, we all know how easy it is to get a driving licence in India. Also punishment for errant drivers is light so the rash drivers are free to go.

Apart from this, speeding and luxury cars have always proved to be a killer combination in the past. However, traffic police officials have classified the accidents into segments. Here are a few instances of super car, super expensive crashes in Delhi-NCR and goof-ups in the past few years:

In April 2015, a man crashed his Lamborghini Murcielago at India Gate from going overboard. The person at the wheel then abandoned the car and fled. The car did not have any registered number plate but police found that it is registered in the name of Better Option Propmart Pvt Ltd, a real estate company with offices in Noida and South Delhi’s Kotla Mubarakpur.

In February 2014, Gurpreet Singh (22) was killed in a road accident when he was returning from a marriage function. The incident took place near Mall Road when Singh lost control over his vehicle. In October 2014, two youths were killed when the BMW they were driving crashed into a roadside tree on Ludhiana’s Sarabha Nagar road as the driver lost control over the car. The impact of the collision was so powerful that the car came down to bits and pieces. In March 2014, racing of luxury cars claimed the life of a 26-year-old while his friend was severely injured. Akshit Kharbanda, the victim, who was driving the vehicle along with his friend, died when he entered a race with another luxury car on Ferozepur road. Suddenly Kharbanda lost control over his car and rammed into a pole, killing him and injuring his friend.

In 2014, a valet at a five-star hotel in Delhi crashed a Lamborghini Gallardo into a concrete wall in front of horrified guests, causing damage of up to Rs 2 crore. Photos of the aftermath showed the severely crumpled front end of the sleek white super car with its hood crumpled by a wall.

In a similar incident in July 2015, a BMW car hit an electricity pole situated opposite to Gurdev Hospital at the Ferozepur road. The car driver pressed the accelerator instead of applying brakes while crossing the road on his way to Mullanpur. The family inside the vehicle was injured severely. In May 2012, two people, including a pregnant woman, were killed when a speeding BMW crashed into their Tata Indigo car near IFFCO towers in Gurgaon sector 29. The driver surrendered before the court but was granted bail.

Similarly in July an eight-month pregnant banker died and her husband was critically injured when a speeding Mahindra Marshal crashed into their car near NIB crossing in Noida sector 62.

In 2012, a 26-year-old man died when he crashed his orange Lamborghini, worth approximately Rs 3 crore, on the BRT corridor between Chirag Dilli and Moolchand in the Capital. According to the Police, he was driving at over 200 kmph and not wearing his seat belt when the accident occurred.

Predictably, most of those, who die on the roads, perish because of preventable causes: speeding, drunk-driving and overloading. Unfortunately, the toothless law sets the devil killers free in few hours as killing someone on the road is a bailable offence!

In such accidents, the pedestrians and the riders on two-wheelers are the victims and the majority of these deaths, i.e. nearly three-fourth of it, has been associated with the ‘fault of the driver’, which is a consequence of speeding, drunk-driving, driving on the wrong side of the road and not signaling properly.

“Road accident is the most unwanted thing to happen to a commuter, though they happen quite often. The most unfortunate thing is that we don’t learn from our mistakes. Most of the road users are quite well aware of the general rules and safety measures while travelling on the roads but it is only the laxity on part of the road users, which cause accidents and crashes,” said a senior traffic police officer.

“Road accidents remain the single largest cause of death among youngsters in the 15-29 age group, followed by suicide, HIV/AIDS and homicide. We not only urgently need robust strong road safety laws but we also need to constantly invest in road safety to minimise manmade road fatalities,” said Alok Mittal, Inspector General, National Investigation Agency. He was earlier the police chief in Gurgaon and has launched several drives including awareness campaigns related to road safety.

According to him, if the probability of being caught by the cops increases, the rate of accidents would come down. “For instance, if one lakh people violate the traffic norms, only 1,000 are caught. This encourages the drivers to continue breaking the traffic rules,” he said.

He further added that in the recent past, the increase in the number of vehicles on the roads has led to a rapid increase in the traffic. Even though the roads have widened up and more flyovers have been built, the number of traffic cops remains the same. As a result, the force is unable to control the traffic violation cases that too have comparatively increased. The current data shows, there are only around 3,000 personnel available for day shifts. Also, most of the time, these cops have to regulate traffic instead of catching violators.

“Less challans do not mean Delhiites are not violating rules but it is a resultant of various issues associated with staff deployment. Day-time duty is important as there are more number of vehicles on the roads during the day and people violate traffic rules fearlessly. We have to make do with almost 30 per cent less staff due to night deployments,” a senior traffic police officer said.

Toothless law has put the commuter’s life at stake as they are on the mercy of juvenile drivers who do not fear the law and take for granted the lives of others. According to the data provided by the Delhi Traffic Police, in 2015, 1916 juveniles were issued challans for violating traffic norms in the national Capital while in 2016, from January 1 till March 31, 169 juveniles had been challaned. Meanwhile, 76 challans in 2013 and 356 in 2014, had been issued to the juvenile drivers for breaking traffic rules respectively. Over the past few years the increasing incidents of juveniles taking law in their hands, have proved to be a persistent problem for the Delhi Traffic Police. Attributing the problem of flouting rules to the indifference in “attitude of the affluent families towards their children”, psychologists point towards several factors which make the teenagers break the laws.

“The charges, under which these juveniles are issued challans, are compoundable. Under section 5 of the Motor Vehicles Act, punishment for these violations is a payable amount of Rs 1000; and in few cases, three months imprisonment,” said a senior Traffic official. “Be the driver you expect your children to be. It’s the duty of parents to provide accurate driving training to their children before they get a driving licence. Just handing over the car keys to untrained underage children will inevitably invite disasters,” added Alok Mittal.

“Tu jaanta nahi mera baap kaun hain?” is what maximum number of traffic cops get to hear from the errant drivers, who are caught by the police. These days, everyone knows everybody and if someone is caught by the police, he/she does not take a second to take big names in front of the cops. The violator thinks that taking the names of big-shots or making a call to them, will help them get away with it. At times it works, but many times, the traffic cop challans that person which leads to tends to burst the ego bubble of that person.

Similar thing happened in the Merc hit and run case when the juvenile, who has turned 18 now, told cops “tu jaanta nahi hain mujhe.”

Confirming that such trend does exist in the society, Muktesh Chandra, DGP, Goa who was earlier the Special Commissioner of Delhi Traffic Police, recalled some incidents and said: “Three-four months ago a person was caught by a constable for violating laws. He told the cop – “Tu jaanta nahi mai kaun hu?”(Don’t you know who am I?) The cop bluntly said: No. Whosoever you are, you will be challaned. He then replied, Okay! Fine. Challan me today and tomorrow you will be standing in front of your boss and I will be sitting with him. The next day, the constable was standing in front of a Joint CP and the accused was having a tea with the officer. The accused then complained about the cop who was scolded by the officer but when the cop showed the video to prove that he was right, which then lead to the officer charging the accused and asking him to leave.”

According to Muktesh Chandra, several traffic cops have complained about this trend but they all have been instructed to ignore it and challan the offenders. Recalling a similar incident, Head Constable Harish Kumar (48), posted in New Delhi district circle said: “Once I caught a BMW driver who was driving in the wrong direction to take a short-cut. The moment he came out of the car, he started threatening me with big names. I myself made a call to my senior officer who instructed me to challan him.” The name of the traffic cop has been changed on request.

Alok Mittal, also confirmed that the trend of taking big names is a common practice in Gurgaon as well. 
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