Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Drunk driving and the laxity of laws

The media has been going all out on the very recent drunk driving mow and kill case that happened earlier this week. A car full of drunk revellers ran on some pavement dwellers, killing 7 and injuring atleast 14 people in Bombay. The driver of the car has been slapped with a barrage of IPC violations while his partners-in-crime have been let off the hook on a paltry bail of Rs 5000 each. Add a very innocous statement from the mayhem master and you feel like taking a knife and slitting the bugger's fat throat.

In actuality, both the sides have to be blamed:

1. The driver of the car for getting drunk up to his nose, yet having the gall to drive around looking for more booze.
2. Migrant labourers who choose to sleep on the pavements that are meant for pedestrian use.
3. Migrant Labourers sleeping on road medians, making themeselves juicy targets for speed junkies in large trucks and snazzy cars.

Hell, I missed getting mowed down by an Ambassador today morning at about 5.40 a.m on my way to the gym. The stretch I take to the gym is not monitored in the early hours making it a free for all. Had I applied the breaks, I would have landed in hospital. I just kept going, pleased that I was in one piece and remembering that quote from the 2002 James Bond flick Die Another Day : You live to die another day. Right on. Made a lot of since that point of time.

Coming back to the drunk driving case, Indian laws that are used to punish such douche bags are like toothless elders. All gaggle and no teeth to bite. It is illegal for pavements to be encroached upon by small business or humans. Animals using the pavement to poop and block access is a different issue altogether. When something bad happens, the pavement dwellers don't blame themselves for inviting danger to their doorstep. My sympathies to the vicims but I think it's time we examine the larger picture.

In the case of Mumbai,

1. There is a huge influx of migrants from all over the country coming in search of work with stars in their eyes.
2. The city's infrastructure is at a breaking point.
3. There are no guest houses for labourers to rest for the night. So where do they go? To the pavements braving nosey cops, animals and of course, death on wheels.

Common occurances

1. Penalties for drunk driving are like shit. The law differentiates betwwen the haves and have nots. The affluent are allowed to go scott free, while the victimised are treated like dirt or paid off to keep their mouths shut.
2. All the warnings you see on public transport like:

a. Don't drive and drive
b. Speed thrills but kills
c. Drunken Driving is an offence that is punishable by a jail term for 2 years, Rs xxxx in fines or cancellation of licenses.

are useless.

The third part is what has been exploited by people. There are big loopholes in the law that allows people to get away with lighter sentences, cancellation of licenses won't deter speed junkies because you can buy you new license from an RTO tout. What a shame.

The people are not educated enough to understand that if your blood alcohol limit exceeds a certain count, you start to feel drowsy and will not be in control of yourself. All this inspite of having high flying degrees, fat paychecks and a wardrobe full of designer clothes. When will people learn? US laws are much tougher than the one's in India. Enforcing the same kind of laws in India is a logistical nightmare because of the ever growing population.

Law enforcers themselves turn a blind eye to such incidents sometimes. There are reports of cops using their police cars to ferry their family men and how these losers use the police sirens(to be used only in the case of emergencies) to clear traffic. Korangu kaila poo malai kudutha ippadi than irrukkum. So who do we blame? Each other? Nope my dear brethren, we have to blame ourselves for the mess we are in. We know that drunk driving, rash driving is illegal and yet we do that. What is it that makes people do such things? Is the conquest of breaking laws hard wired into our collectibe psyche?

Bad roads, too many vehicles and very lax law enforment. Well, we elected these fat asses to power. Isn't it time we paid back something in return?

I wonder...

A barrage of angry retorts on the Rediff forum here.

On a related note, a clip on self rgulating taffic some where in India.

Information on the blood alcohol limit via the Delhi Traffic police site.


Blogger Jonathan said...

Drink driving should result in a ban for several years and if you kill someone while behind the wheel it should be jail and then a ban.

We do need more harsh punishments since it is a crime many people commit without thinking it is a crime.

Jonathan (vehicle salvage and car parts manager).

4:46 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

Hi Jonathan,

Banning a person from driving or hersh puishments alone will not help. People will be deterref but se/she will find ways to circumvent that ban or to come out free.

The onus is on the people themselves to reform their drunk driving behaviour fully knowing that such rash decisions could result in heavy damage not only for them, but other road users as well.

Things are particularly bad here sice people can easliy get away paying paltry fines if you are connected or have oney to spend.

What drives people to do stupid things like this anyway? I for one will always go out with my designated driver if I am to have a few drinks.

7:48 PM  

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