Get Ahead readers Regnar Fernandes, Ashish Kher, Hebbar R and Amit Kumar wrote with their valuable suggestions.
If implemented these could surely help save a few lives to say the least:
Where do we start? Shall we stop bars from selling alcohol? Shall we increase the drinking age limit? Shall we add more speedbreakers to the roads? Or shall we limit the maximum speed on our vehicles? The list continues. But it is one big circle of facts right from the family of the common man to the government. We say impose a fine on the drunken driver who drinks and drive, suspend their licenses and confiscate their vehicles, problem solved? will he/she not drink again? will he/she not commit the offense again? many may not due to the embarrassment and hole in their pocket. But many can't stop at all. Check on any known alcoholic, it's an addiction which is very impossible to get rid of so easily.
We are talking of the very few who got caught while driving drunk. I bet more than 50% of the male and 25% of the female population in India drink and drive. It's only that many are very alert, responsible, know their drinking limits and
most of all very lucky not to get caught or meet with an accident.
Getting a drivers license in India is not so difficult at all, what lacks is the will to learn and understand the concept of driving. Driving is an art; it's not just holding the steering wheel, pumping the pedals and shifting gears in case of 4-wheelers. We lack the education of the consequences of drunken driving. No one will like someone approaching you and telling you (who by the way have been driving for the past ten years) to use your turn indicators properly and regularly use the horn. You will first think in your mind, "What is this person trying to tell me? I have been driving for
the past ten years". That's when our ego as an 'experienced driver' kicks in. We need to educate the masses right from the beginning, from the driving schools, from a father who is teaching his daughter to ride a moped for the first time, from a teacher in a classroom teaching their students on community living, from a RTO officer during driving license test drives. All this should have an impact in the long run, because at that time our minds are fresh and are willing to learn.
Drunk driving is not something that is new. It has been there since the introduction of vehicles and alcohol. What has changed is the lifestyle of the people. I remember in my day when a villager was completely drunk and owned a cycle, he would walk home with it after failed attempts of riding it. Definitely we can't do that nowadays with our cars or even bikes, walk it home. We tend to neglect the importance of our thoughts, when drunk we tend to think more carelessly and are more concerned of what others will think or say or gossip about the fact that you couldn't drive because you
were drunk. Forcing yourself to take the matter into your own hands, endangering one's own life and others as well.
Taking responsibility of that fact that you are drunk is the most important thing to do. Hence accepting the fact that you should not be driving because it may lead to a misjudgment, an accident and above all is against the law. If one wanted to drive, one shouldn't have drunk so much in the first place, but we are humans and tend to neglect our limitations at that moment. Keep aside your ego and the 'I can do it", "I'm not as think as you drunk I am" attitude, ask someone to drive you home.
Impose fines and suspend licenses when the system is in place. I see newly completed tar roads where after a few days the telephone department digs a groove with mud covering half the road to lay cables. I see people walking in the middle of the road in busy cities showing their hands to stop vehicles at their own consent as if they were the owners of the road. I've seen people stopping and chatting with each other with their vehicles right in the center of the road, I have seen people without helmets being stopped by the RTO or cops and being fined, but people wearing helmets and driving very old vehicles which were never manufactured with indicator lights being let thru as they were never needed then.
There is something wrong, and I think we can't do anything much about it to change. But if we work together to be responsible, do our own part by educating those dear and near, it might have an impact on the generations to come.
1. The bigger issue is with rash & negligent behaviour in general which our society seems to be increasingly tolerant of -- we are definitely losing our 'culture' to a significant extent.
2. The above issue needs to be handled at an 'awareness' level as well as an 'iron hand' level.
3. Awareness apart, we need justice to prevail & prevail hard & fast as follows:
1st time caught: One week in jail with Rs 10,000 fine & a public shame (put up his/her name + photo in the local newspaper)
2nd time offender: One month in jail with hard labour & Rs 25,000 fine + public shame
For injuring others: Public shame + each injured to be compensated with one year of their current earnings + 3 months in jail for each injured (so if you injure 3 people, its 9 months of free stay at govt expense + paying one -year compensation earnings for each of those 3 injured)
For killing someone: 10 years hard labour + 10 years compensation of future earnings of the deseased person.
Sounds good doesnt it?
In India education is just imparting literacy and nothing more. Education should be much beyond what is taught in schools/colleges.
Just look at the people involved in such acts of dangerous drunken driving. Almost all of them are "highly educated". Look at people in swanky cars blissfully talking on the mobiles while driving at high speeds (speed actually does not matter, it is dangerous anyway). All of them are "highly educated". Look at high level corruption. People involved are "highly educated". Any number of examples can be given here. Matters tend to get more aggravated when role models do wrong things and actually get away scot free or with just a wrap on the knuckles.
Higher fines only mean more corruption. Hence it will not help. Often the police give statements showing the increase in fine collection. This is done to indicate that they are doing their jobs. May be they are. But, in an ideal situation, the
police should be questioned as to why so much fine is being collected. So much fine only indicates that there is so much of lawlessness and for whatever fine that is collected, so many times more is just not accounted for.
Cynical as it may seem, it is not possible to change things in India. The time for that has already passed. But, yet the effort should be on.
Just like we can't make a child study by hiding the TV remote or selling off the TV itself, similarly we can't really curb this menace by moving pubs out of city limits. And moreover, by having drivers provided by pubs, we are not
targetting that part of population who comes on their own vehicles. In my point of view, things become more simple when we as a citizen realize and become aware of the danger of drunk driving and the loss of live that we end
up causing. Few major changes illustrated below might help to some extent:
1) Education should be made mandatory in schools, colleges, offices. Poster with dos and don'ts should be put up everywhere. Attempt should be made to reach out to everyone.
2) Mostly it's the rich people who makes it to pubs. If found guilty, case should be non-bailable.and action taken accordingly. No use in cancelling DL (driving license) forever. It's not feasible and doesn't makes sense.
3) Vehicle keys should be submitted on entry to pubs. Every customer walking out of pub should be put to breathalayser test. If found exceeding, they should be provided taxi or auto.if they insist for their own vehicle, they shouldn't be given the keys of their vehicle.
4) If found guilty, they should bear all the expense end-to end. Fine should be huge.
5) There should be ways like making them serve in the same pub, etc etc to teach them a lesson.This happens in few outside countries. There are countries which make you sweep the entire road if they find you spitting.
6) Govt should see that all these happens on time without delay.
7) And again, none of the above will happen if we youth don't have a commmon voice, and understanding against this danger.