Efforts on to drive home road safety message through campaigns
If there is one thing that the visiting members of the Group Study Exchange programme of Rotary International agreed on unanimously it was the “scary” state of traffic in India.
Speaking at a meeting held at Ganga Medical Centre and Hospitals Pvt. Ltd. in the city on Thursday, the members said that the Government of India and the provincial government (Government of Tamil Nadu) must initiate efforts to ensure road safety.
Indian traffic condition enjoyed such an ill reputation that even before she could visit the country, she had been warned, said Andrea Sprockett, a Rotary member from Ohio, USA. “When I told my friends that I intended to visit India, they asked me to be very careful on India roads – irrespective of whether I was on foot or in a taxi.”
A German member of GSE said he was surprised to find two-wheeler riders without safety gear. “I see too many motorcycle riders without helmets. This is unthinkable back home,” intoned Maxim Baer.
Other members like Adam Rosplock, Fabian Heuel, Hubertus Sass wanted to know how people could get away with not following rules. Back home they had stringent punishment including revocation of licence.
“For each violation, the traffic sergeant will award the corresponding points. If a licence holder crossed 15 or 16 points, he was sent to the traffic school for lessons. For serious violations, the licence was revoked. And the fine imposed was heavy,” said Mr. Heuel, personal advisor to the president, Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University, Germany.
Sara Poralla, a German member, said education was the key to have safe roads. “All Germans, when they were six or seven, would be taken to traffic parks for lessons on road safety. This helped them when they grew up.”
S. Rajasekaran, Director, Ganga Medical Centre and Hospitals Pvt. Ltd., said the government did very little to impose traffic rules and ensure road safety. Last year, 1,52,000 persons had lost their lives on roads. This worked out to an Indian losing his or her life every five minutes.
This was expected to go up. By 2020, an Indian would lose his or her life every three minutes. And, mind you, for every life lost, there were 10 injured.
The hospital had been trying to drive home the road safety message through various campaigns and initiatives. “The hospital had conducted meetings for students, truck drivers, police personnel and many others.” It had joined Rotary and various other organisations in the process, he added.