Friday, May 18, 2012

Accident or Oversight?

It is amazing how the Indian media has the tendency to report road accidents in a way that makes it look like the bigger vehicle is always the aggressor and at fault, while the smaller vehicle is the victim.

The headlines liberally use "speeding", "over speeding", etc., when they have no idea of what speed the vehicles were traveling at. Even if you have eye-witnesses, there is no way to gauge the speed of a vehicle just by looking at it, or guess what it must have been doing based on the crash. So, how are they able to say that "the vehicle was being driven at 150kph"?

In the crash reported May 18, 2012 by Delhi's leading newspaper involving a "speeding, overtaking" Mahindra Scorpio, most readers were led to believe that this was due to rash and negligent driving; until you read just one mention of a cyclist in the report in the inside page. Now, what was the cyclist doing in the fast lane of the road? Isn't it possible that the sudden appearance of the cyclist could have made the Scorpio driver swerve and thereby lose control? Similarly, a few days back, there was a Lamborghini that came unstuck on the BRT corridor. There was a cyclist there, too, in the wrong place at the wrong time! Then, how about the recent case of a Mercedes Benz and a motorcycle - what was the motorcycle trying to do, cutting across the car? Or the Skoda crashing into a scooter rickshaw at night a few months back, near Pragati Maidan; why was the scooter making the U-turn when a car was coming? Did the rickshaw driver not know that he has to yield? In last week's incident at Ghaziabad, what were the out of town pedestrians doing in the middle of the road? According to traffic laws, weren't they "jay walking"?

Those who have any doubts about the "accidents" mentioned above - you only have to go on Mathura Road, NH8, NH24 or Ring Road, drive around for an hour (preferably in a large sedan or SUV) - you will come across several incidents of cyclists & other 2 wheelers suddenly cutting across your vehicle from an illegal & makeshift verge in the median fence, pedestrians (hidden by a tree or traffic signal) casually stepping off the median on to your path, people driving towards you from the wrong side and so on. In case you happen to hit them (even if you are stone cold sober & driving under the posted speed limit), whose fault would it be? Take a guess!

If my point is still not made, then consider reports like "Rajdhani mows down family" or "Train rams into car", etc., making it look like it is the train engineer's fault. Pray tell me, what were these people doing on the railway tracks? What is killing people and causing these crashes is, first & foremost, lack of traffic sense and discipline, the other factors come later.

With the power to reach millions of people across the country and the world, our media has to be more responsible and report news equitably. Is the 4th estate hearing this?

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