Every so often we come across news reports of accidents caused by drunken driving and over speeding. People are killed or are injured. It results in outrage that pours out on the media – especially diverse views on social media.
This follows with the political opposition raising the issue and then the police launch a drive, or perhaps an overdrive, booking motorists for drunken driving.
During these drives, vehicles are stopped, drivers are tested for alcohol content, and those found to have above the permissible limit are fined.
Then it is back to square one, until the next accident caused by drunken driving and breaking the speed limit. This is exactly what is occurring at the moment with the focus once again on road safety.
Had traffic rules on drunken driving and speeding been followed would the three lives lost at Banastarim on Sunday night have been saved? The answer, given the reports emerging in the media, is obviously yes.
This highlights the fact that drinking and driving can be a deadly combination and needs to be avoided at all costs.
Yet it continues, maybe with just a short respite when the police are alert to motorists driving under the influence of alcohol.
This brings us to the question as to why do motorists ignore traffic rules? Is it because the punitive action is not very strict? Again the answer would be yes. But there’s more. The fact is that if you are connected with those in power, you can get away with it when caught and not even pay a fine.
Some time ago, when Goa Police were on a special drive targeting serious traffic violators, especially drunk drivers and rash and negligent driving, instructions to the policeman on the ground were that they should ignore all calls from the “contacts” of those who have been caught violating traffic rules and go ahead and issue challans for traffic violation.
This actually laid bare the fact that traffic police do get such calls and are susceptible to listening to influential persons and ignoring the misdemeanours, allowing the motorists to go free without any fine or other action being taken.
This interference in the process by influential persons has to be stopped.
How many more lives are going to be lost on the road due to drunken drivers behind the wheel of vehicles before the authorities wake up and seriously clamp down on this?
Haven’t there been enough accidents, lives lost and people injured, to lead to some action from the government to stop this menace?
As Goa returns to the debate of drunken driving and over speeding, it is obvious that the issue does not just exist but is serious and needs to be tackled urgently.
Granted that it would be difficult to come to a resolution, especially since this is up to the drivers to control the urge to drink and drive and also to speed.
But shouldn’t there be some effort made to stop it? A question raised on social media is why allow a permissible limit of alcohol? Shouldn’t the person driving be totally sober?
In the West, when a group goes out drinking, there is a designated driver who abstains from alcohol for that evening. Why not start such a practice here? If it is going to save lives, we do require it.
A week’s drive against drunken driving and over speeding will not make any difference. This can be seen by the fact that accidents due to the violation of these two traffic rules continue. Reckless driving cannot be allowed to continue and the existing rules have to be enforced.
Goa, however, needs more than just strict rules to reduce accidents. An education campaign, as was suggested earlier by GOACAN, on the rules related to over speeding and drunken driving could also help.
Why not also make the procedure of issuing driving licences stricter and ensure that the applicant is aware of the penal provisions related to speeding and drunk driving? Of course, it may not stop drivers from drinking and driving, but at least they will be aware that they are doing something wrong.
The enforcement of Goa’s traffic rules on motorists is lax, a reason why drivers and riders are able to get away with speeding and drunken driving.
Unless motorists are made aware that some sort of punishment awaits them for breaking rules, they will not change their driving habits.
Drinking and driving is a cocktail of a disaster in the offing, and we have seen it repeatedly. It needs to be stopped now. This is a case where speed in tackling the issue is necessary.