Dhanalakshmi S. who has been part of her school’s Road Safety Patrol (RSP) club since she was in class VI, learnt about the consequences of not following traffic rules the hard way a few years ago. “My uncle and my sister, were on a motorcycle on a flyover when a speeding bike from the opposite direction hit my uncle’s vehicle. They could have been thrown off the flyover, but luckily they escaped with just injuries,” she recalled. If the other person had driven carefully, none of that would have happened, she noted.

At the inauguration of school RSP units for the year 2012-2013, which saw participation from over 3,500 RSP cadets from over 100 schools, the underlying theme was, to ‘catch them young.’

J.K. Tripathy, Commissioner of Police, said that it was imperative that these students spread the message to their family and peers and urged students to effect changes where they lived, and within their classrooms. Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) V.A. Ravikumar noted that the RSP units were effective essentially because they have been integrated within the framework of schools. “For prevention of accidents, awareness isessential,” he said.

The irony of what many experts call the ‘disease of mobility’ is that traffic accidents can be avoided completely, and as many experts have noted, there already is a solution. N. Ramani, who has been the co-ordinator of the RSP unit in Manilal M. Mehta Girls Higher Secondary School for the past 15 years, feels that while roads have become less safe, there are also so many distractions these days. The most visible of them is the mobile phone.

One of her students, Janani R. said two years ago, she was hit by a motorist who was on his mobile phone while she was crossing the road. “RSP cadets, for instance, have stopped travelling on the footboard of buses,” she asserted.

Azeem Ahmed, Deputy Chief Traffic Warden- East, contended that despite challenges like shortage of staff and funds, RSP cadets are more sensitive towards adhering to traffic rules. Students, he said must be given incentives, like an additional mark or two, as is done for the National Cadet Corps to rope in more of them.

The Tamil Nadu Police Traffic Warden Organisation which hopes to bring in more students under its fold enrolled close to 320 schools last year. The inauguration was held at Doveton Boys Higher Secondary School, Vepery. Sanjay Arora, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic), and Harish L. Mehta, Chief Traffic Warden also participated.

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