The chat room: Fear or Education, the solution to underage driving

On Sundays, youngsters with a yen for speed take advantage of the relatively empty city streets to drive their cars.

A 17-year-old boy's head snapped clean from his shoulders after a joyride went bad. His two friends, one of whom was also a minor, were booked, as were their parents for allowing this to happen in the first place. On weekends, youngsters flaunting high-end cars on main roads is a common sight and the consequences can be severe. Can this recklessness be curbed through the law? Rohan S.M. a budding animator and Ashwin Kannery a software developer (both who reside in the areas of Domlur and Indiranagar, locations where youngsters flaunt their superbikes and supercars in the city) talk to Vijay Rao about the effective implementation of civic discipline.

On September 18, 2017, three boys, two of whom were minors, took their fathers' cars out for a joyride. As they descended the Elevated Flyover at Roopena Agrahahara, they lost control of their vehicles and the three cars brushed against each other. The Skoda, driven by 17 year old Arfan hit the median with such an impact that his head was severed from his shoulders. The others escaped with injuries and were booked, as were the parents of the minors involved. Both boys who survived said they went on joyrides often.

On Sundays, youngsters with a yen for speed take advantage of the relatively empty city streets to drive their cars. The consequences can be dire for everyone involved. Rohan S.M., a budding animator and Ashwin Kannery, a software designer, both live in Domlur and Indiranagar, where speed-demons are a fairly frequent sight as they flaunt their expensive vehicles down the city's most exclusive streets. Rohan, upon hearing of the incident, wrinkles his nose with disdain. "These things make me sick to my stomach. A kid loses his life all because he wanted the thrill of a joyride. At that age, it's difficult for a person to rationalise the consequences of what they are about to do."

The parents of the minors being held is significant - will this help clamp down on indulgent adults who let errant kids have their way? "A lot of it boils down to the values the parents instill within the child," Rohan agrees. "Sure, the standard of living determins the kinds of 'toys' that a child might be given but it comes down to rational thought by parents, who must consider what could go wrong," he adds.

Ashwin takes a more stern view, putting the tragedy down to a total disprespect for the law of the state. "It could stem from ignorance," he remarks. "Today, people tend to take more ill-advised decisions on the roads, in the belief that they will get away with them. In a metro like Bengaluru, just as you see kids driving rashly, you're bound to file adult cyclists causing similar havoc!"

Both men agree that pubescent and young adults are more likely to seek adrenalin highs and that there's more to it than just a lack of parental guidance. "In order to curb incidents of this nature, one must rely on fear tactics that are used by federal and government authorities in other parts of the world. Case studies show that in other to make citizens abide by the law, it is necessary to inculcate a fear of the consequences if they are broken."

Places like Singapore and Dubai, says Ashwin, impose harsh sentences, from huge fines to even incarceration. This, he says, will force people to think twice before they make a bd decision. "The method has its uses," he remarks. "The pillion rider helmet rule in the country has been more or less successfully implemented because of this."

Rohan, however, remains on the fence about the use of fear tactics. "Enforcing the law through fear is bound to have its drawbacks. For instance, when you're riding alone at night and you see a policeman, do you feel like you're part of a secure neighbourhood or do you fear that you will be caught for a crime you may or may not have committed?" These decisions vary with the situation, Ashwin says, summing up the argument.

"If I need help or assistance, I will run to the police. If I'm committing a crime, I should fear them. The fear that I might be caught for my crimes, no matter how big or small and the fear for my life and safety, will keep me in check when I consider doing something drastic."

Rohan agrees with this but hopes for a more proactive approach. "While the police should always be there to keep citizens in line, educating people on the consequences of under age and rash driving should be done each time a vehicle is purchased and before a young adult obtains a driving license," he says, adding, "These companies need to educate users about the vehicles they are purchasing, too."

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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