Apply the brakesThe govt must act strict and not free errant drivers after they pay a fine
Auto accidents have become one of the gravest risks to public safety in the country. Reports of road accidents keep making headlines at an alarming rate. And it is not only the poor quality of the roads that leads to accidents. Perhaps more important is the behaviour of vehicle owners and drivers. Many drivers are reckless and impatient. Yet, repeatedly, these wayward drivers are given a free run. They cause accidents, pay a fine and continue to drive recklessly without any feeling of guilt or sense of responsibility.
Since such offences remain bailable, it makes it easy for offenders to keep doing the same thing repeatedly. Policymakers need to get tough with errant drivers, so that lives can be saved and people will not continue to be maimed.
For example, a microbus driven by Sonind Tamang ran over a four-year-old child Anup Tamang and killed him. A police investigation concluded that the death was caused due to negligence of the driver. This Sonind Tamang has paid fines to the traffic police as many as 27 times for flouting traffic rules, yet the incorrigible person continues to drive a public service vehicle.
The figures published by the Nepal Police show that 17 road accidents took place daily in the Valley alone in the fiscal year 2017-18. Sheer negligence of the driver, driving under the influence, over speeding, unroadworthy vehicles, overtaking on the wrong side and pedestrians jaywalking on the main road are major reasons for road disasters becoming frighteningly common in the country.
All this coupled with an inadequate number of traffic officers and the questionable enforcement methods sued by the police lie at the heart of the high accident rate. Further, protection from higher-ups gives law-breaking drivers’ further indulgence and impunity, thus exposing people to constant danger. This problem urgently demands a comprehensive solution.
To begin with, all drivers, especially those driving public service vehicles, should be called for a rigorous driver licensing. The in-service drivers could then be trained in safe driving skills. Perhaps the government and the private sector both could invest in such training programmes so that drivers are imbibed with greater knowledge of road safety and road rules and learn to value lives.
It is also equally important to institute an accessible legal framework through which victims and their families can press for compensation from drivers responsible for the accidents and/or owners who employ such drivers.
The government must invest in road safety measures and strengthen regulations to monitor the condition of the vehicles and drivers. More importantly, strict action should be taken against wayward drivers so that they are not emboldened to repeat their mistakes. Otherwise, they will continue killing and maiming many of our compatriots.