Good Motoring
Watch your Step
H. Kishie Singh

A busy road is not the place to listen to music or make a phone call. In fact, all your senses should be alert to your surroundings

H. Kishie Singh
H. Kishie Singh

Some weeks ago, there was a serious accident resulting in the death of a young girl, who was crossing a crowded road while wearing headphones. She was either listening to music or talking on her cellphone. Since the ear plugs had cut out sound, she was totally oblivious of her surroundings. While crossing the road, she got hit by a cyclist and stumbled.

As she was trying to regain her balance, she stepped into the path of a speeding bus. She died on the spot in the freak accident.

A busy road is not the place to listen to music or make a phone call. This applies to pedestrians and motorists as well. On a busy road, all your senses should be alert to your surroundings.

An outcome of being absorbed in music or a phone call is that your concentration is not where it should be. As such, you are not able to respond to an emergency situation appropriately.

Thinkstockphotos/ Getty Images

The proper place to listen to music is at home, in your lounge, study or bedroom, not while crossing a crowded road or driving on a busy street. Certainly not the place to be checking your e-mail or texting.

It is a common sight to see motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, scooterists using a cellphone. Go for a walk in the early morning in the Bougainvillea Garden, and people have earphones plugged it. An early morning walk in a garden is time to clear the mind, get your thoughts in order, may be mutter a prayer and thank the Creator.

In the past four years, 697 persons have died on Chandigarh roads. Of these, 598 were pedestrians, cyclists or scooterists. The reasons were carelessness and ignoring traffic rules.

One of the reasons, if not the only one, could be explained in the words of Sherlock Holmes. He told his companion Dr. Watson, "Watson, you saw but you did not observe!" This is exactly what kills pedestrians, cyclists or motorists, who are immersed in an activity not compatible with being a road user.

Here are some Doís and Doníts that might save a life.

The Journal of Safety Research in the USA has highlighted a study on the use of cellphones by pedestrians. They could not hear a car horn that was a warning to the pedestrian. They were simply impervious to their surroundings. The pedestrian failed to act because reflexes slow down. You may look but not absorb. The momentary lapse could be fatal.

While a motorist can be challaned for using a cellphone while driving, there is no provision in the Motor Vehicles Act to challan a pedestrian or cyclist while doing so. Some countries have laws against jay walking. Jay walking is defined as "walking carelessly on a road without paying attention to traffic". This happens all the time on our roads.

Madhya Marg is the most murderous stretch in Chandigarh. Thorny bougainvillea and barbed wire has failed to deter pedestrians from jumping over these obstacles. A woman absorbed in untangling her "dupatta" from the barbed wire stumbles into the path of a vehicle.

The speed limit on Madhya Marg is 65 kmph. A person on being hit by a mass of steel will reduce the human body to a mushy carcass, the consistency of strawberry jam. There is another downside to using earphones. Over a period of time, subjecting your ear to headphones may lead to a loss of hearing.

There are no laws against jay walking or jumping over road dividers or using headphones by pedestrians. Yet we know these endanger lives. Common sense should prevail and youngsters should be advised to use the gadgets sensibly so as not to risk their lives. Happy Motoring.