Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Warning! Just Skip This Notice and Move Ahead

Two days ago a trip to the Aksa beach turned tragic for a few friends. While two boys lost their lives, one was saved and undergoing treatment at the hospital. That Aksa is a dangerous beach is a well known fact. Over the years many have lost their lives at this piece of Mumbai coastline. The question then is why do people choose to ignore all warnings and put their lives at risk?

This behaviour is not just limited to the beaches. Look around and you will find examples aplenty of how we have utter disregard for our own safety. Do people feel that the government has no other job than putting up these signs everywhere? No, they’re meant to keep you safe and following what’s written on those bright red boards might just be the difference between life and death.

The most classic example is the Mumbai Suburban railway. Number of people meeting fatal accidents on Mumbai’s tracks hovers between 3,000 to 4,000 annually! Out of these 2/3rd deaths are caused due to people trying to cross railway tracks. Other reasons include electrocution (usually due to travelling on roof tops), falling off the train and being hit by poles and other objects while leaning out of train.

While it is true that the safety standard of Indian railways is nothing to brag about, to be fair to the railways, we do know how much efforts they take to create awareness of major hazards. The PA systems on stations are constantly blurting out warnings, advising people not to travel on roof tops (remember the 25,000 Volts warning) and foot boards, not to cross railway tracks etc. But in our haste we certainly always overlook these hazards and throw ourselves, needlessly, into harm’s way. And how do we defend our acts, by using “Mumbai is a fast city” and “Boss time is money in Mumbai” and other crap one-liners!

Another instance that comes to mind is warning signs on roads. Things like speed limits, accident prone areas etc. An example close to home is the case of JJ flyover ban for two wheelers. The JJ flyover is a marvellous piece of engineering and it’s got curves that can make most Bollywood actress jealous! These very curves are also the reason for a large number of mishaps on this bridge. In the five years before the ban in 2010, 23 deaths involving two wheelers were recorded!

I am pretty sure there were speed limit signs on that bridge, well I have used it many times and I know that they do exist. You may argue that the speeds mentioned are mostly absurd, how can one drive at a speed of just 30 Km/hr? And while the authorities might be playing a lot safer when setting speed limits, you should also understand the perils of driving at speeds way above the limit. However as the figures suggest, not many of us take the speed limits seriously. And it’s no surprise that between 2010 and 2012, 550 cases were lodged against two wheelers for using the banned bridge!

It’s not just two wheelers that are a cause for concern, four wheeler drivers are even worse in breaking laws. I fail to understand why so many people just can’t get used to the idea of using a seat belt! Haven’t we all been educated about the virtues of seat belts? People it’s not a piece of decoration for your car, it’s for your safety! And please don’t give us the shit of how good a driver you are and all; cause it’s not always your own mistake that causes an accident.

The best act of defiance, however, is driving under the influence of alcohol. We Mumbaikars excel at it. In fact we are so good that we even know the exact location where our smart policemen lay waiting to intercept drunkards behind wheels. How easy it is to give them a slip! Well Mr. Alcoholic, if you read newspapers then you would know how many people die on roads due to alcohol. And one day you might be one of them!

We Indians just love to break laws, but the sadder part is that we are so damn proud about it. We drink and drive and we narrate stories to our friends, stories how we bribed the mamu and got away so easily. We love to cut corners every now and then. But we fail to realise how cutting corners can bring us close to death. You might break and cheat the law and get away, but I doubt if cheating death will be that easy, my friend.

Coming back to Aksa, a gentleman wrote to an English daily suggesting that the government should completely stop people from using Aksa till it can make provision for their safety. This might actually be the last resort that we, because no matter how many warning signs you put up it is never going to stop us Indians, isn't it?

You might as well put this up - 

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