Along the valley of death
Daily Mirror Editorial
May 28, 2012
Over the years, the significance of maintaining road discipline and its obvious absence from the roads of Sri Lanka has been subject to constant discussion. Yet, no amount of talk has been able to bear any fruit. Tragedies on- the- go have become such mundane occurrences that, their high prevalence has long ceased to generate shock or disgust in the minds of the public, as they ought to have done. Frequent sensationalized reporting in the newspapers and television channels too have failed to increase the people’s awareness, let alone opening the eyes of the authorities to the avertable disasters.

The country, which was saved from the human bombs and claymore mine explosions, in its third year of peace, is marching along the valley of death due to the fast escalating wave of road accidents. Slippery roads, too many vehicles, or unprotected railway crossings, blame it on whatever one may, life on the road is as uncertain as travelling in public transport during the wartime. However, this is a trend that needs immediate discontinuation.

Negligence of the drivers as well as that of the commuters has always been the instrument with which they dig their own graves. Speeding vehicles on the highways, ignoring the road signs, drunk driving and of course using the mobile phone while driving have accounted for many deaths over the years. Then, there is another side to the story. There are also money-hungry private bus drivers, whose list of priorities does not have a place for commuter-safety. They make the busiest bus routes their race-tracks; overtake each other; crash into vehicles; all the while disregarding the safety of the people who travel in them. If one looks at the horrific bus accidents that were reported recently, it will be obvious that, it is not a hotline but a flying squad that is needed to curb their raving spirits.

However, the authorities who look into the road safety too should be mindful of their responsibilities. If the drivers who over-speed think that a fine is a ticket to have extra fun and punitive action for breaking laws does not demand a pound of flesh, this trend may be hard to control. If one does not respect or abide by the road rules, they should be made compel to adhere to them. If the prevalent laws are complacent, it is their duty to bring in the necessary amendments.

Nevertheless, it is not always the fault of the commuters and the drives that contribute to the blood drenched numbers; death traps on the roads and unsafe railway crossings are beyond their caution levels. In order to avert such dangers, the authorities and those who lead above them, should heed to the public when they make representations. For them, it is not a dormant, wingclipped commission that is needed to assure protection, but immediate, substantial action. The value of human life is worthier than all the expressways and luxury vehicles put together. Some facts should not be erased with blood.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka