Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Zainab Batool_iSafeExpressia

The day I realised the need to follow safe road practices
Category: Poetry
A busy life
This life indeed is a busy one,
With thousands of demands and a little time;
We have too many places to be,
Too many meetings, still in line;
No time to stop, no time to breathe,
The cars rush past on a busy street;
But if you could find a few minutes to spare,
Then listen to my story, take a back seat.
It was just another day,
Of this mundane schedule,
When I learnt a lesson,
Discovered a golden rule;
Sitting quietly in the car,
As it picked up speed,
I picked up the phone,
There was a message to read.
Then the car in front abruptly stopped,
Pulling the breaks, I flew forward dangerously;
In that moment, my heart beat paused,
As my head hit the panel in front of me;
But a caring force had held me back,
Gripping me firmly in its hold;
I looked down at the broad black belt,
Smiling at me, wise and old;
Maybe you think this story’s old,
And probably, you’ve been there too,
And in that moment, I realised,
Practicing road safety is the right thing to do.
Life may be fast, but there is no point,
In being too fast, and losing life;
Life may be fast, but there’s no point,
Walking on the edge of a sharpened knife;
What a pity it is to lose this gift,
To nothing but haste and carelessness!
So be wise and follow the rules,
And drive off safely to happiness.
Name: Zainab Batool

College: Shaheed Rajguru College of Applied Sciences for Women

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Essay on Road Safety || Bhavuk Pujara

It was one fine morning when they all were driving within lanes, maintaining the safe distance between them, not speeding, not jumping signals, in fact they were slowing down at the Yellow light so as to stop by Red, no one overtaking my car on highway, no one honking on busy city roads and those pedestrians crossing only at Zebra Crossing. Sounds like Utopia, doesn’t it? No, I wasn’t dreaming either. This was my first day to work in Seattle, USA and the day I noticed the mere existence of traffic rules. Aah! What a beautiful morning that was! Back in India I’d consider lanes as “designs” on roads so I can switch them often and kill time, Red light ahead on my road would only be considered a “Stop” sign if I’d see some cop in white around, Honking would be an “integral” part of my driving in a way that NO Honking = NO Fun, Overtaking would be to “show around” how cool I am, Speeding would help me with “Adrenaline rush”; and maintaining minimum safe distance between cars? Whoa! Was that even a thing? I didn’t know.

I’m 27 and driving since I’s 19. But why didn’t I know all this first hand? Did I never pay attention to traffic rules? Was I the only one oblivious? Answer is that I never took it all seriously, in fact there is a very famous saying about us Indians on global platform- “We Indians are always in a hurry but never on time”. How true, isn’t it? We Indians carry this “I don’t care, nothing will happen to me, I’m a good driver” attitude up our sleeve. Statistics say so too, according to sources- Delhi with a population of mere 20mn reported around 1.5mn cases of just 3 violations- Driving without helmet, Speeding and Driving without seatbelt. That’s 8% violating the traffic rules officiallyeach year. And let’s note that this figure doesn’t include unnoticed violators and those who negotiated with cops when caught and were never recorded. The figure will surge to around 30% if all is accounted for. And I don’t shy away from saying that I have zoomed past unnoticed and negotiated when caught numerous times myself, well who wants to pay that heavy sum right? We all are breaking rules, aren’t we? So why should just I pay? “Catch them alI first” I’d chant. We always have in the back of our minds the solution to escape a ticket. Well, that is the problem right there.

But we have been discussing this issue on big platforms, let’s discuss the solutions today: Suspending driving licenses? Tried that. Charging hefty sum for violation? Check. Imprisonment? Done. Confiscate driving license? That’s new. Any improvements yet? Marginal. Let’s face the root of this issue- Our attitude, I suggest we change that. They say there are 2 ways to change one’s habit: INCENTIVIZE and PENALIZE. And that’s my solution to this forum:

For record, we have a poor number of Traffic policemen to vehicles ratio in India, for instance in Aurangabad the ratio is 1:5000 and that to number of vehicles is 1:4000. Also, according to 6th Pay Commission, salary of a Constable falls under Pay Band 1 Police Constable Basic Pay with a median value of 2,50,000 INR p.a. including incentives.

  1. Incentivize:
  1. Hire more traffic policemen: Not permanently. Instead, introduce a Short Service Commission (SSC) scheme, like in Indian Army, where candidates are hired at lower ranks with an option to retire after 3-5 years and top 20% performers shall be “considered” for a better rank and permanent position later. We youth today look for respectable jobs, introducing one performance centric and contractual based employment is a shout out for many good applications. This also partly solves the unemployment problem of the youth.
  2. Introduce a new civil service vertical of “Traffic enforcers”: Pass on to them limited rights to enforce traffic law and order. Employ youth, under the same SSC scheme, again under shorter span of Service Commission, and on successful completion they shall be provided certificates of merit for consideration in similar or government jobs later.
Key point is to Instruct them to play honest (Incentivize** them) and be strict with traffic violators.
This solution will increase the visual presence of traffic enforcers on roads and induce sense of fear in probable violators.
** During their employment incentivize them, award them and recognize them based on: Total quality tickets made, quantity of tickets made, number of complaints against them, feedback from seniors etc.

But wait, where’d their salary come from? Am I suggesting another stream of cash outflow from our “well preserved” Federal & State treasury? We know that’s debatable and too much to ask for. Well, No, thanks to our Indians’ intrinsic habit of breaking the law, I have a better solution: Penalize.

  1. Penalize:
We Indians are brought up in a way to ignore traffic rules and in case caught we always know what to do, don’t we? Slip a green note in the pocket or call some body back home. My solution is to heavily penalize us vehicle owners on every small law we break. Even in this proposed well-designed law and order system with strong enforcement structure like suggested above, we’ll take at least 5 years to correct our habits. And if carried out honestly, this system will generate a new revenue stream, in form of tickets, that can be used straight to pay the traffic enforcers and constables employed on contract. And when we start getting used to this new system the number of tickets will start falling, say in 4-5 years, around the same time when SSC employees start retiring, thus rectifying the cost and revenue structure.

While writing I came across this news that a TL cricketer died while racing on a highway with his friend. This is a state of urgency and it’s not law but our habits we need to chage, this solution addresses just that.

BY- Bhavuk Pujara

Friday, 26 January 2018

Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2016 :- A Step towards better legislative framework for road safety in India.

Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2016

Road accidents in India take more lives than natural disasters and diseases do and these figures are on the rise. 1.5 lakh people fall victim every year to India's killer roads. With these numbers on the rise, and an outdated existing law system to safeguard the stakeholders who use Indian roads, change is essential.

Enter Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2016. With the aim of addressing this problem, it is an attempt to create an exhaustive and comprehensive legislative framework for road safety in India. With a proposal of 68 amendments to 233 sections and the insertion of 28 new sections in the 1988 Motor Vehicles Act, the bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha by the Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, in August 2016. 
It unleashes radical reforms in the transport sector by ensuring 100% e-governance, checking bogus driving licenses and vehicle thefts, slapping heavy penalty on traffic violators and protecting the good samaritan. It was approved by the Lok Sabha in April of this year.

The bill seeks to save lives by ushering in radical reforms in the motor vehicles law to slap heavy penalty on traffic violators, protecting good samaritans and making vehicle-makers responsible for design defects to cut road accidents.

The basic aim of the bill is to save human lives, as a whopping five lakh accidents take place every year claiming around 1.5 lakh lives across the country. The bill seeks to make services like issuance of license totally transparent and online and provides for punitive action against officials in case of delay in issuing of the document to eligible applicants. Under the new system, every one will have to go to the license issuing authorities under a uniform procedure and if the license is not issued , then the RTO will have to face action. A learner’s license can be availed online sitting at home.

96% believe that passage of the Bill would help meet the UN mandate to reduce road accidents up to 50 per cent by 2020, according to a survey conducted by Consumer Voice. 97% people feel the Bill should be supported by all the parties since it was important to bring down fatalities due to road accidents, currently the highest in the world at 1.5 lakh annually. As already mentioned, the Bill has been passed by the Lok Sabha, and now Rajya Sabha needs to give it a nod. It will turn into law after the President's approval. Needless to say, it is a very necessary step towards road safety. Changes take time, and this one seems worth the wait. 

PS - For the curious ones, here are the main proposals of the Bill. 

1) It makes Aadhaar mandatory for getting a driving licence and vehicle registration. 

2) For deaths in hit-and-run cases, the government will provide a compensation of Rs 2 lakh or more to the victim's family. Currently, the amount is just Rs 25,000. 

3) In traffic violations by juveniles, the guardians or owner of the vehicle would be held responsibile unless they prove the offence was committed without their knowledge or they tried to prevent it. The registration of the motor vehicle in question will be cancelled. The juvenile will be tried under the Juvenile Justice Act. 

4) The bill has provision for protection of Good Samaritans. Those who come forward to help accident victims will be protected from civil or criminal liability. It will be optional for them to disclose their identity to the police or medical personnel. 

5) The minimum fine for drunk driving has been increased from Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000. 

6) The fine for rash driving has been increased from Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000. 

7) Driving without a licence will attract a minimum fine of Rs 5,000 as against Rs 500 at present. 

8) The fine for over-speeding will go up from Rs 400 to Rs 1,000-2,000. 

9) Not wearing seatbelt would attract a fine of Rs 1,000 as against Rs 100 at present. 

10) Talking on a mobile phone while driving will attract a fine of Rs 5,000, up from Rs 1,000. 

11) A Motor Vehicle Accident Fund will provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India for certain types of accidents. 

12) It will be mandatory to alter vehicles to make them suitable for specially abled people. 

13) Contractors, consultants and civic agencies will be accountable for faulty design, construction or poor maintenance of roads leading to accidents. 

14) A time limit of six months has been specified for an application of compensation to the Claims Tribunal with regard to road accidents. 

15) The Bill removes the cap on liability for third-party insurance. The 2016 Bill had capped the maximum liability at Rs 10 lakh in case of death and Rs 5 lakh in case of grievous injury. 

16) The time limit for renewal of driving licence is increased from one month to one year before and after the expiry date. 

17) The government can recall vehicles whose components or engine do not meet the required standards. Manufacturers can be fined up to Rs 500 crore in case of sub-standard components or engine.

Pratyush Pandey
 IIT Delhi

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

The day I realized the need to follow safe road practices (A blog by Winner 1 of Expressia)

The day I realized the need to follow safe road practices

It all happened too quick for me to even realize and construe. All I heard was a loud, deafening crash followed by screams for help and wailing cries of distress and pain. Then suddenly a slew of blurry images appeared before my eyes...they were arranged in a carousel like fashion and moved in front of my eyes. Each of these images, became clearer as they came nearer and nearer to my eyes.. And after seeing one of those brutally gruesome images, I realized that I had mowed down an entire family, right there...in the middle of the road. There were people running across from all directions screaming and cursing at me, but I was too drunk to even comprehend what had happened. I knew there was no escape...they say that sometimes your life comes to a halt and it takes just one second to completely turn it around.. That was pretty much how I felt that night.......

Before I move forward, let me give you a little background...
Being the only daughter of two super conventional parents, I was always pretty reckless (Only outside of home, obviously). My parents were...umm... for the lack of a better word...super stuck up (I am sorry, euphemisms are not really my thing!) Yes, I know I sound mean but the truth remains the same. I was raised to believe that to touch alcohol is a sin. I was always asked to behave , talk and dress a certain way because I am a girl belonging to a very respected family. If I ever made a mistake, the instant reaction of my parents would be to cover it up rather than help me out of the situation, because they did not want the family name to be ruined. All this led me to do exactly the opposite of what I was told (discreetly , of course). At age 21, my biggest dream was to go to Bangalore and party at Skyye Bar. Because someone had told me that it was a place too hip and was situated on the sixteenth floor of UB city, from where you could spot Vijay Mallya’s helipad. These things will obviously fantasize the hell out of a 21 year old wannabe rebel-in-the-making hailing from a city where hanging out at Café coffee day was considered the coolest. But unfortunately enough, I had strict curfews while staying in my hometown, so the probability of getting myself to a bar in Bangalore was near to none. Hence, I decided to make the best of what I had. During my last semester, I got into drinking. I used to lie to my parents that I was held up because of project work and drink all day with my friends. And, since I was the only one with a car, I used to drop off all my friends unmindful of how drunk I was.

I still remember that day. It was one of my friend’s birthday and we had all decided to get some drinks and go for a drive. I, as usual, lied to my parents about going to college . But in reality, we were at least a hundred kms away from my college, having lost our way and hearts to the stunningly scenic roads en route the Ooty hills. Naturally, we were so enthralled with the place and to combine that with alcohol, we lost track of time. I did not realize until I saw my mum’s phone call. I started freaking out and checked the time. It was already 7 pm- one hour past my curfew. It was a miracle that my parents had called me an hour past my curfew time. I quickly got my friends to pack everything and revved up my engine and hurtled right towards the city.

Meanwhile my parents were frantically calling me. I couldn’t ignore their calls for that would only make matters worse. So I decided to pick the call. From the minute I picked up, I could only hear my mom screaming accompanied by my dad screaming behind her. They were not even willing to listen to me. I promised them that I would reach home in half an hour. There was no way in hell I was going to make home in time. My mum called me exactly 29 minutes since her last call. This time she yelled with twenty times the intensity.” You told me you were 5 kms away when I last spoke. There is no way you could be taking so much time! Do not lie to us...”and it continued. I was too hammered to talk sense. So you know what the precocious-drunk-me did? When you are a South Indian and your parents are mad at you, just throw some random, unrelated facts of science or math to show their money’s worth. It is just to reassure them of a good ROI and also to prove that you have not fully failed them. MOMMMM! Stop hyperventilating...Will you? I screamed.. Don’t do this math to me. Do you know the Heisenberg uncertainty principle? It says you cannot determine a particle’s velocity and position accurately at the same time, even theoretically. Did you listen to that Ma? Even theoretically ...You know in reality, factors like traffic, alcohol(I wanted to say but...) ,deranged drivers (Like me) are the reason for the delay. So will you please calm down and let me drive (Meanwhile I was already on a road rage)If set A was my dad being super mad and Set B was my mom being super mad, the probability of me getting screwed was P(AᴒB)=1, nothing less. I was getting super paranoid about going home that I did not even realize how crazy I was driving. There was a family of three in a scooter too close than I had anticipated. I almost knocked them down and the shock made the guy lose his balance. However he regained composure and started hysterically yelling and following me. I looked through my rear view and to my utter shock there were around ten people yelling at me to stop my car. I pressed my accelerator as much as I could...however one guy managed to get ahead of me and blocked my way by scooting right in front of my car. They all started yelling and cursing me and thankfully I had the sense to not open my mouth as I was drunk and that could have gotten me into a bigger mess. I faked an apology and got into my car cursing those “poor losers”. Finally I reached home two hours later. And as for my parents’ reaction...Lets not even get there. That night still gives me PTSD.

Fast forward to ten years and suddenly one night , I dream about that same family being mowed down by me. They say that dreams are an extension of your subconscious. I don’t know why or what made me dream about something that happened years ago and which, honestly speaking did not have much of an impact on me until that night. Probably it stayed in my subconscious all this while. Probably God decided to pardon me a little that night. And after all these years, He decided to take it all on me...at once. Although it is the most horrifically vivid dream I have ever encountered , I thanked all my lucky stars that nothing of that sort actually happened. It is a wonder that I am not dead or in prison today, considering the number of times I have put myself and others’ lives in danger. However, I am happy that I have come a long way from what I used to be...And I am happier that this realization occurred naturally without the need for something horrific to have happened.
As an end note, I am sure that many young adults must have gone through or are still going through the same issues as I did. Not everybody might get as lucky as I got to be. An advice to all the parents and future parents- Forced abstinence is never the solution. Be a friend more than a parent to your children. Tell them it’s okay to drink and have fun provided they know where to draw the line. Teach them to call you or a cab whenever

they drink. Make them believe that their parents should be the first ones they should reach out to in case they get into any mess. Children make mistakes, your job as parents is not to stop them from making mistakes... rather it is to make them learn from their mistakes. And finally , teach them that ITS NEVER COOL TO DRINK AND DRIVE.

A Blog by Winner 1 of Expressia