Eyes On The Road!
Eyes On The Road... Not On Your Mobile. If Not For Your Sake, Then For The Sake Of Innocent People Around You, Who Pay With Their Lives Due To Your Stupidity And Irresponsibility!
Sad part is that despite this being an obvious fact and something that is known and apparent to all, it is ubiquitous on our roads. For the past 4 years at least I have made it a habit to stop people from indulging in this. In the early days of Mobile Phones, I too was guilty of such idiocy, to be perfectly frank; but the various police drives to educate got through to me, as did my own intelligence in equal part. Similarly, while some people - a good majority, to be honest - sheepishly keep the phone aside, or stop the vehicle; a small minority actually swears at me. Boss - I am not trying to save only you; I am trying to save my bloody skin, and those of others on the road. I am trying to save others from your irresponsibility!
Even sadder is the fact that this happens openly, and no action is taken on this in large parts of India. There is a law against this - but is it implemented? We continue to openly flout this law, adhering to it only in front of the cops, and blissfully and daringly flout it when no one is looking. There is no hint of awareness of the serious risk such overgrown kindergarten school kids are exposing the people on the road to. In doing so, we are putting other people at risk; it is fine if you are stuck in traffic in a jam - you can use your phone. It is not so fine when you are driving your bike or car.
Why does this happen? Why are we as a people unable to confront and accept this simple reality that usage of Mobile Phones on the move is dangerous - both to our own selves, as well as to others. It is our responsibility to our family, to our community and to our nation; we should realise, understand and accept this - and stop using phones while driving. Is it too much to expect a human being to behave rationally?
Frankly, yes - it is too much to expect that. This realisation came to me while studying a research paper on behavioural economics, which looks at a similar issue in economics - that a man / woman considers many aspects in life, and the expectation of rationality is bookish. This applies here as well : the absence of rationality. In the humdrum of daily life, rationality takes a back-seat. The immediate concern - getting to office on time to avoid a confrontation with the boss, or to get to the meeting on time takes precedence. Since accidents are by definition a rarity, their occurrence is never factored into the equation.
In such a reality, firm strict and decisive action against misuse of Mobile Phones while driving and heavy punitive penalties is the order of the day. Only the fear of the law, and the attendant loss of the driving licence / thousands in cash can act as a strong deterrent. The need of the hour is to increase the penalty from the teensy-weensy 500/1000 to magnitudes of that amount : say, 2500 or even 5000. That should be effective as a deterrent. Add to that the cancellation of the mobile number and confiscation of the phone with all its data and numbers deleted, although a copy in a data device can be handed over, but only through the court.
This needs to be supported by social media awareness campaigns, hoardings, Television advertisements, Print advertisements - which is currently happening in almost every town of India. But the evidence of the road suggests that these measures are enough, which is why I am calling for stricter measures on the punitive side. People are dying almost daily - due to this irresponsible behaviour on our collective parts. This article is itself an attempt at adding to the fight against this bad habit on social media.
We are talking about lives here; we are talking innocent lives. Take it from me - closure is hard to come by in such cases, even though the person who died was not my father or mother. What will it be like for the immediate family of the deceased? Spare a thought for them! And spare a thought for those countless, nameless and faceless people who have died because someone else was using a mobile phone!
If you are reading this, and are habitual of using phones on the move - please desist. Your habit can and has caused inconvenience to others. I can understand the pressures of modern life - at one point in time, I too might have been guilty of the same. But in the past 4 years and more, I have not received the calls - but have called back the callers immediately on reaching my destination - or have stopped my vehicle. And I dont recall people objecting on hearing the explanation. If I can convert even one person through this article, my effort will not have been in vain.