Now that summer vacation is over, daredevilry by bike-riding minors has become common, says S. Vijay Kumar

Autorickshaws overloaded with school children, students travelling on footboard of buses, college-goers speeding on motorcycles and, more dangerously, children (minors) riding triples on two-wheelers. After summer vacation, such scenes become a common sight as educational institutions re-open.

Despite several awareness campaigns and steps taken to educate parents/children on road safety, many students continue to resort to unsafe modes of travel, risking their lives. Police say at least 20 students die every year in road accidents in Madurai, many of which could have been prevented if simple precautionary steps had been taken.

"We have posted police constables at bus stops near major schools to regulate traffic during rush hours. The entry of lorries into the city is restricted after 2 p.m. since many accidents involve these vehicles. Some initiative has to be taken by educational institutions to discipline students indulging in rash and negligent driving," says a Traffic Inspector.

No driving licence

According to him, a major chunk of school-going students, both boys and girls, ride two-wheelers without a driving licence since they are below 18 years (the qualifying age for obtaining a driving licence). In the event of an accident, such students are not entitled to any benefit.

The `helmet mela' organised by the city police recently did evoke a good response. More than 1,000 helmets were sold at the two-day mela. "At the college level, we are organising road safety seminars regularly. We have plans to invite college principals and students' representatives for devising an action plan to minimise accidents involving students. Student volunteers will be deployed to regulate traffic in front of colleges," says the Yadava College Principal, G. Thiruvasagam.

While enforcing speed restrictions on school/college buses, the traffic police have decided to conduct regular checks of autorickshaws carrying students. Stern action, including registration of a case, is contemplated against erring autorickshaw drivers, police sources add.