Pedestrians cause accidents too. It’s time we talked about it

It has become customary to hear news about accidents occurring throughout the country every day. Turn the tele on and we get to see gory visuals of people lying dead and bystanders or witnesses giving bytes to TV crews about the accident. I agree that overspeeding, changing lanes abruptly and without indication, fatigue and driving under influence of alcohol and drugs are to blame for many accidents. Such reckless driving must be addressed immediately.

Now that I have stated that, I think we must turn our eyes upon reasons other than these that lead to accidents. There are many factors that lead to a person’s death than the government data would lead you to believe. Having already established that ABS and airbags alone would not save one’s life in my previous article, I want to talk about accidents that occur due to pedestrians and the lack of data about it.

It is a shame that people have to walk on the roads in the country more than they would on the sidewalk. That is because either the sidewalk is unfit for walking or is encroached by petty shops. As a result, people are forced to walk on the roads. But what happens when they decide to cross the road? In my over two-decade-long existence, I have more often than not witnessed people crossing roads any moment they wish, leading to chaos.

A trip to OMR is testimony to the fact that pedestrians would rather bend the rules than cross the road at appropriate junctions. Every biker will relate to incidents where they had to apply the brakes suddenly, locked up and fell. All because of a pedestrian who so wished to cross a road at an inappropriate place. For many, taking the trouble of running across the road when vehicles are coming by is okay than to take the foot overbridges (FOBs). Walking the stairs of such bridges is somehow tough than facing death for our people.

What’s more, there is data in the government portal only for accidents that occur due to weather conditions among the obvious. There is no evidence of accidents that occur due to wrongful crossing of the road by pedestrians. Look it up for yourself.

If pedestrians are such a lot, people who own cattle are also to blame for many accidents. They let those poor animals loose, exposing them to danger all the while they are on the road. It is a problem that India is still working to address. As a result of our incompetence, countless lives have been lost (both human and cattle) and yet somehow, cattle-owners are yet to stop such practices. I wonder how hard it will be for the government to stop this menace.

I am not trying to point my fingers at any one section of society for accidents to happen. But I will hold every factor accountable and of equal importance, because lives are at stake here. I would want the authorities to see the bigger picture and hold every factor that leads to accidents equally important. You can’t cook a good meal by overlooking the fact that it needs seasoning. When people take to the subways and FOBs, stick to the zebra crossings, wait for their turn to cross the road, I think all will be well.

But they must also be given space to walk – that is the work of the government. People, like always, will choose the easy way rather than the right way. However, when pressed upon, I think they will follow the rules. It is now in the hands of those who are in charge of giving the pressure point. Will they heed? I hope they do.

Praveen Kumar S