Safety seems to be the key word in the first month of the year, as the city is in the midst of the Road Safety Week. The well-known Western India Automobile Association (WIAA) is holding its high-profile Road Safety Week, where the accent, of course, is on the safety of both public and private vehicles.
The safety week is a multi-pronged approach to Mumbai’s road problems. There are awareness drives, including one involving children, who are encouraged to learn safety on roads via a drawing competition. There are workshops for public transport drivers, including medical and check up camps. Certain roads in the city have posters and banners announcing the safety week and cautioning drivers to obey rules.
Mumbai’s reputation as one of the best regulated cities for traffic has taken a beating of late. Road rules are increasingly flouted, resulting in incidents of road rage, pedestrian vs car owner clashes on the roads and, of course, bikes and cars in perpetual battles.
One cannot blame traffic cops for all ills. Especially on challenging days, like festivals for instance, they do an exceptional job of controlling traffic.
While Road Safety Week is a welcome initiative, it is imperative we do not lift our feet from the gas pedal when it comes to road safety. Measures should be reinforced and awareness drives conducted through the year so this does not become a sporadic wake up call for the state of our roads.
Traffic experts and bodies must keep up the momentum. Emphasis should also be put on rules for pedestrians. While one understands that pavements are encroached and roads are impossible to walk on at times, rash crossing, jaywalking and putting others at risk with foolhardy decisions, all contribute to the dangers on road.
Road safety should be like the sweeping and successful crackdown on drink driving, which may have loopholes but has yielded results.
Safety weeks can bring about awareness, but the implementation has to be in all the weeks that follow, the reinforcement has to be constant, otherwise they remain cosmetic lip-service to the cause, at best.