mid-day editorial: Don't take the wrong call on safety

How much can breaking a simple rule cost? On Sunday, it cost the life a 9-year-old girl who was run over by a speeding car in Mazgaon. Eyewitnesses said the driver was on the cell phone.

Mixing driving with phone calls — or drinking, for that matter — makes for a lethal cocktail. Common sense should tell them that it is wrong, but it is hardly uncommon to see motorists speeding, drinking and driving or using their cell phones while at the wheel.

Some rules, particularly those that ensure safety of lives, must be held sacred. Yet, people pay scant attention and continually try to slip through loopholes, conjure up excuses or just break rules outright. Why is it that we only adhere to rules when forced into by special checks, drives and campaigns? Even educated and urbane motorists hardly ever follow rules of their own accord. It’s not the fear of loss of life and limb, but the threat of fines and jail time that pushes us to be responsible.

Years earlier, a traffic commissioner had stated in frustration that the police have to struggle to enforce the helmet rule for bikers. When bikers are hauled up for riding without a helmet, they always come up with ingenious excuses, no matter how many times the cops explain that it is for their own safety. In the traffic chief’s words, the rule may be the police’s, but the head is yours.

It is this attitude that we see in motorists who drive without helmets or seatbelts, or with cell phone in one hand and steering wheel in another. Speeding, breaking signals or flouting other traffic rules are not just a sigh of reckless behaviour, but a callous attitude towards all those put at risk because of this.

Let’s avoid these totally unnecessary and irresponsible measures that snuff the life of innocent people. Instead, we must develop a healthy respect for rules and those who make them. This is the only way to see the number of accidents on a welcome downward spiral.

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