For Indians, the Road Is a Playground

In the year 2005 or so, a young couple living in Vasant Kunj, a tiny locality in India's capital city of New Delhi, were blessed with their first child. The young parents, both doctors, were elated by the new addition to their family. Even before the child could complete one year, they decided to travel outside Delhi by road. While the man strove the car, his wife sat beside him in the front seat holding the baby. Both did not wear their seat belts as the car sped towards its destination.

Somewhere along the drive, while avoiding a cyclist, the car swerved violently and crashed against a tree. Because of the massive impact, the baby was flung from its mother's protective hands and to turn through the windscreen, crashing against a tree. The baby died instantly while the parents miraculously survived with major bruises.

Such scenes do not evoke any major awareness in India. Safety is a dirty word among Indian drivers. Or so it sees. India has among the highest number of fatalities in the world when it comes to road accidents. Is it in their genes to disobey traffic rules? Or is the law so lax that one can get away with road indiscipline in India?

One needs to take a close look at two wheeler riders and four wheeler drivers in New Delhi to realize how traffic norms are tossed out of the window so brazenly. Although it is mandatory for car drivers and their co passenger in the front to wear seat belts, very few adhere to this rule. A random observation will prove beyond doubt that three among each five drivers wear seat belts on the roads of Delhi. As for the co-passenger sitting beside the driver, it is perhaps one in every five. That's among the common people.

What about the law enforcers and others driving government vehicles? Almost none of the drivers driving a police vehicle wears a seat belt. As for the policemen sitting near the driver, they too do not wear a seat belt. The same goes for those driving vehicles belonging to the armed forces, ambulances and the fire engine. The law of the land does not seem to apply to them.

It's time for the Indians to take the law a bit more seriously. Without, of course, they want to continue crashing into trees and poles and dying an untimely death!