mid-day editorial: Let's not be driven by aggression

In a city like Mumbai, where there are far too many vehicles and not enough parking space, towing wars are bound to happen. One such incident went terribly wrong after a 60-year-old man collapsed and passed away while chasing after a traffic van hauling his scooter away.

A report in this paper yesterday stated that the retired bank employee, Madhukar Kasare (60) saw the traffic van towing his scooter away and ran after it to retrieve some documents from his vehicle. During the chase, he is suspected to have suffered a heart attack. However, his family alleged that he collapsed after he was pushed by a constable, a claim that onlookers denied. While the jury is out on that one, the larger picture is the contentious equation between vehicle owners and towing vans in our city.

The most common complaint of vehicle owners is that cars get damaged when they are towed away. Bumpers are broken, drivers say the doors are forced open at times — we have seen huge altercations on these issues. Towing companies must take care when hauling cars away; they must not bear a careless attitude just because the car belongs to someone else.

Also, rules need to be properly spelt out. Is this a parking or no parking zone? When can your car be towed away? What can you do in case your car is damaged? Towing personnel need to make more efforts to leave enough information behind for the vehicle’s owner. Sometimes, the chalk instructions left behind by them get erased — a common problem in the monsoon. A more foolproof method needs to be worked out.

Having said that, vehicle owners cannot be absolved of blame. Even when they park wrongfully and obstruct traffic, they are arguing with towing personnel, and are even known to try and bribe them. Some take the more desperate — and dangerous — measure of chasing after their vehicle because they do not want the hassle of retrieving it from the police station.

Greater clarity in rules, more respect for the law, and a more mature and patient response to cars being towed away is the way to douse all the ire and fire of the issue.

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