good motoring
Danger of using cell phones
. Kishie Singh

Cell phones are in the news again and for all the wrong reasons. The Delhi Police has revealed that every day three people are killed in the Capital while crossing railway tracks. Around 379 people were killed in the first four months of this year on the rail tracks in Delhi. All the corpses had one thing in common, headphones plugged into the ears.

"Most deaths occur because people have earplugs while crossing the tracks and are not able to hear the approaching trains. Most of the dismembered bodies found have ear phones plugged in. Eye witnesses confirm this", said a police officer posted at the old Delhi Railway Station. In an attempt to stop this illegal traffic, high walls were put up at the outer periphery of the station, but to no avail. The walls have been broken down at several places and the pedestrian traffic continues.

We see it every day on Madhya Marg. People jumping over the barbed wire and dodging traffic, playing the Indian version of the Russian roulette. No sense of self-preservation or respect for the law. And to compound the danger of jumping over barbed wire, avoiding cars at high speed, these people in a hurry have fallen prey to the latest gizmo, a cell phone with ear phones.

This fad of ear phones has assumed epidemic and alarming proportions. Why is it that people must have music blasted into their heads all the time? The dhobi on the sidewalk outside your house has ear phones as he irons clothes. So does the maali as he mows the lawn. These are not life-threatening. It is the pedestrian, the cyclist, a two-wheeler rider and, of course, children on their way to or from school. Psychologists, psychiatrists and social scientists are concerned and are probing this phenomena. Tests conducted in the early stages of cell phone usage and driving showed that the cell phone had a "hypnotic and mesmeric" effect on the cell phone user.

Simply put, the driver is so involved with the phone that he is oblivious to his surroundings. It is for this reason that cell phone use while driving is banned. While the cell phone plus driving problem has been around for some time, the ear phones are a more recent invention. In India it could be a very serious problem. Our roads are chaotic at the best of times plus there seems to be a misconception that the roads are the exclusive preserve of mechanised vehicles. Pedestrians, cyclists and other roads users are mere irritants and should be ignored. It is this attitude that is going to kill pedestrians who have ear phones stuck in their ears. In developed countries there is a term "jay walking". Jay walking is described as "to cross or walk in the street or road unlawfully or without regard to approaching traffic". We all ignore zebra crossings and wander willy-nilly across a road with fast-moving traffic.

That move is dangerous and illegal. To be wandering on a road wearing ear phones, immersed in your thoughts and music you won't hear or see the car that kills you. The people killed on the railway tracks did not hear or see the locomotive. Happy Motoring !