TAMIL NADU

Television actor switches role to become road safety activist

"I am planning to meet the Union Communications Minister regarding the inaccessibility of number 103"

Television-artist-turned social worker, S. Suresh, has turned to creating more awareness among road users about road safety. He has launched a few programmes to highlight the issue in Chennai. At 37, he plans to give up his acting career and take safety issues to more people on the road, as he explains to P. Oppili.

His quest began when he saw an advertisement in a local neighbourhood newspaper about the death anniversary of an IIT Student Sameer Anand. It set him thinking on the importance of road safety.

Mr. Suresh says: "Sameer was intelligent and had donated blood several times and refused to go out of India even after he was offered a huge salary and other facilities.This news affected me greatly, and made me think of doing something for society on road safety." So he planned to implement basic projects on road safety with the help of the city traffic police. His first programme was titled "Respect Red. Don't shed blood." For this, he, along with a few police personnel, worked on various traffic intersections in the city. When the signal turned amber, he would blow a whistle and wave a red flag to stop the vehicles before the stop line. They sensitised motorists about the dangers of jumping a signal. His next project was titled "Three mirrors and no errors". An accident where an eight-year-old girl child was run over by her school van last year prompted him to educate van and lorry drivers on using the rear-view mirrors on both sides of the vehicle besides the one inside. Talking about his future plans, Mr. Suresh says there are complaints that the emergency number 103 is not reachable from any cellular phone. "I am planning to meet the Union Communications Minister to sort this out. Everybody now carries a cellular phone ... and it is easy for them to help an accident victim on the road," he says.

His next project is to provide accident victims employment opportunities. Recently, he was invited to make a presentation at the International Road Safety workshop held in New Delhi on the topic "Responsible Driving and Right Road Environment".

Asked to look back on his acting career, Mr. Suresh says: " I am conscious of content. We need good writers to give life to a story and popularise it. It is easy to perform when there is content or stuff," he adds.

For details on his activities, log on to >www.freshindian.org