Traffic rules in India have always been at the mercy of the traffic hawaldars and traffic inspectors stationed on Indian Streets. They will fine you for not wearing Helmets (compulsory to wear helmets by two-wheeler riders in many cities), however if you go in the wrong way just to save few meters of run, they might ignore you. However, worse comes when the rules are applied to Auto-Rickshaw drivers, who are offering chartered service to school kids to ferry them to the school and back.
My recent visit to a New Delhi based school sent shockwave when I saw school kids more than 9-10 in a single Auto rickshaw. The worse was the fact that each student also carries a big load of school bags and lunch bags, which keeps hanging from the rear-view mirror, making it virtually impossible for the driver to see what traffic is coming along the side-ways. Further, they run at a high speed to cover the time of porting all students to the school, which again risk the life of the school kids. And not that there are not traffic inspector at each street crossing, but they seems to turn their eye from this illegal activity, probably cause they get their share of revenue as well!
So are we prepared for a big road accident before we should take steps against these Auto-Rickshaw walas? Shouldn’t the traffic inspector be blamed for going against the law and making their own rules on the streets of India? Or should the parents be blamed for risking their kid’s life to save few hundred of rupees? What are school authorities doing?
When spoken to one Auto-wala (Auto driver) Raghu, he says parents hardly give Rs.400 per month per child and if they stick to 4 children per auto, it will not cover their cost! Raghu further adds that he understands the risk and makes sure he drives very slowly to avoid any danger. He also has to give away a portion of his income to traffic guard so that they do not issue any challan to him.
When discussed this matter with Mrs Telesra, delhi-based housewife, whose kids aged 5 and 7 use Auto-rickshaw to go to the school, she adds – School bus do not enter the lane and we have to go to the main road and wait till the bus comes. During drop-time, she has to go and wait until the bus comes and the timings are not always the same. She finds Auto-rickshaw convenient as the Auto-driver honks and waits for the kids, delivers right at the door step and Mrs. Telersa does not have to wait in the morning or afternoon to get her kids. She also puts low-cost as a factor to opt for Auto-Rickshaw.
When asked about the danger, she says “Danger kisme nahin hain. School bus aur gandi tarah se chalte hain (Danger is everywhere, school bus drivers drives even more recklessly) recounting horrifying bus accidents in Mangalore (where more than 7 school children were killed as bus skidded off the bridge) and various School Bus accidents in Delhi”
We are still not convinced with Raghu’s and Mrs Telersa’s side of story. We think it’s illegal and dangerous to have so many kids in a single Auto-rickshaw with their bags and baggage. Parents should increase the fare so that not more than 5 kids should be in a single auto-rickshaw and also covers the cost of ferrying for the Auto-drivers. Traffic inspectors should not look into warming his pocket and take actions against the defaulters. Further School authorities should take actions against the parents whose kids come in crowded autos.
Precaution is better than cure that goes for everything. However, in this case if no precaution, there will be hardly any option for cure. Please do not risk the lives of the school kids, who innocently accepts whatever wrong or right we pass on to them.
Share your thoughts.