They share a common risk

They share a common risk

Packed like sardines: A share-autorikshaw carrying students at Kottakuppam in Villupuram district. — Photo : T.Singaravelou

Scores of students having risky ride in share-autos to schools in the Kottakuppam area is a common sight. They little realise the hazards to which they are unwittingly exposed.

It might look adventurous to the youth to take precarious journey to schools, by throwing safety aspects to the winds. Auto drivers too seem to be calculative about returns and least bothered about passengers’ security.

They keep on packing students like sardines . In fact, share autos that are permitted to carry only five passengers have a penchant for violating traffic rules by nonchalantly carrying 20 to 30 passengers at any point of time.

There is virtually no leg room or elbow room that forces younger students sit comely on the lap of the older students. Some students prefer sitting in the rear of the vehicle to have a commanding view of the road and hang their legs down freely.

They are guarded only by a single iron cross rod placed almost at their face level. Whenever the share-autos have jerky ride or come to a screeching halt, which happens often in crowded stretches, students get hit.

The auto drivers are tempted to drive very fast whenever they get more than full complement of passengers so as to make extra trips. For the students, it is a short journey for a minimum fare of Rs 3 per head.

Though the students have been given free passes to travel in the State Transport Corporation buses, they shun it for two reasons – the indifference of bus crew and skipping of bus stop wherever there is a large gathering of students.

According to Regional Transport Office sources, though the share-autos were originally permitted to carry five passengers, the drivers make improvisations such as placing an additional wooden plank to carry more passengers.

When confronted, they used to question the officials as to whether they had any control or check over the overloading in private buses. Parents too are unmindful of the manner in which their wards reach schools.

Though share-autos have their utility in serving the uncovered areas, they have started competing for space with all other modes of transport on arterial roads and major thoroughfares.

It is a common knowledge that the share-autos, by their imperviousness and scant regard for traffic rule, meet with frequent accidents, both minor and major. Imposing at least a semblance of discipline among them would do a great deal of good to the passengers and road-users.

Share auto drivers seem to be calculative about returns and least bothered about passengers’ security.


Credit : The Hindu