Taming Reckless Driving
Posted on June 4th, 2015

Dr.Chandana Jayalath

Any accident is a bad scene disheartening and dreadful. Lorries, buses and containers overtake blindly. Around 2,000 people die out of 6,000 recorded accidents every year, being the number one killer among people in the 15 to 29 age group. At least a one person dies in each 4 hours. The annual social cost of road traffic injuries runs to over Rs.10 billion, and the trend is upwards.

Amongst the manmade perils are the VIP scods and private buses running races. Particularly, those in long sectors such as Colombo Matara, Colombo Anuradhapura, Colombo Trincomalee and Colombo Kandy engage two more ‘drivers’ to wave hands and give signals standing at the footboard. ‘Suicide Overtake’ is the word newly added to the jargon amongst these drivers to say overtaking in the wrong side at unclear abrupt turns. On the other hand, VIP convoys move fast beeping horns and flashing head lights, harassing other motorists, adding a new dimension in the arena of ‘public nuisance’. During election times, many were knocked down by vehicles canvassing votes. Sarcastically, there were ambulances also accompanying with those convoys.

Though there are warnings not to cause problems to the public in driving fast by VIP vehicles hitting innocent people on the roads, it is important also for the Police to have immunity from possible political influx into their investigations. Also, there is no point of keeping Policemen at designated points since at those points the routine drivers become ‘disciplined’ in driving for a while. The best solution would be for the Police personnel to travel up to some distance in civil suit similarly as passengers and prosecute the culprits on the spot allowing no time for political influx into the legal process.

Another side of the story is that those driving in long run for instance Trincomale to Colombo are taking liquor and drugs at points they stop-over for meals. Pedestrians on the other hand seem to consider roads as their private domain while walking along the yellow lines without paying any heed to moving traffic, assuming that Yellow lines are a license to cross roads at any time, obliviously risking their own lives. Even in driving rashly on the wrong side of the road and in red lights (where in many countries a criminal offence) it is an irony that even the passengers traveling on the bus tend to support the driver to get the bus released that will help them to go home early. Therefore, it is no secret that the number of road accidents is increasing by leaps and bounds.

It would be far more effective therefore to have a traffic patrol officer as a bystander at such points of operation to penalize an offender or chase after an errant motorist who does not obey the road rules. Unlike in other countries where mobile traffic patrol squads on motor cycles and police panda cars have the powers to indict offenders, Sri Lankan patrol squads are not seen engaged in the same tasks but seen rather escorting VIPs. More than any other source it is public responsibility that should take first to discourage not necessarily crossing the lines nor fast driving but uncontrollable reckless driving.

Under circumstances, it is time, while many other actions to restore road discipline, the entire Omni bus service sector underwent a comprehensive revamping process including minimum qualifications for new drivers, proper training by licensed instructors, educating on public rights, law and procedures, constant vigilance on violations, periodical tests on medical fitness, licensing the job profile, introduction of a uniform (all for both the driver and conductor). Such steps must be made inevitable since Omni bus is a significant public service in Sri Lanka so as to avoid reckless driving at least to some extent, boost up discipline and evolve occupational recognition. It is of fundamental importance, that justice should not only be seen, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.

One Response to “Taming Reckless Driving”

  1. Nimal Says:

    Reckless driving in our roads indicates the reckless and irresponsible lives we live in the country. This goes from the person in the street to the person at the top. We need the colonial types to bring the country right as we are incapable of doing that as our leaders are a poor role model to the people.
    Expatriates living in the disciplined West must exert some influence on our ignorant who are plentiful.

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