Rash driving should be made a non-bailable offence

Early morning on Sunday, a 25 year old youth, high on alcohol and a misplaced sense of power, rammed his speeding car into an auto driver and then into a road side tea stall. By the time the Chevrolet Cruze came to a stop, two people were dead and three others grievously injured.

The shaken driver of the car, who was accompanied by his equally drunk girlfriend, then tried to do what most would in that situation–flee. But the car was so badly damaged that he could not do that and actually had to call for help. Those who helped him get out of the car were ironically friends of one of the persons who was killed.

While the gruesome nature of the accident itself is something to be ashamed of alongwith the fact that like in any other fatal accident it cut short two promising lives–one of them an aspiring policeman–what followed was even more bizarre if not ridiculous. The young boy who was behind the wheel and belongs to a wealthy business family from the national capital, was later arrested from his house but released on bail soon after. The question here is, how can somebody who is prima facie the culprit of taking two lives be released on bail.

My limited understanding of law tells me that an offence is non bailable if the crime was a gruesome, planned and pre-meditated one. Accidents, by nature are involuntary acts. Even then, as is the case here, somebody who is heavily drunk and gets behind the wheel is such a liability on the road that should he meet with a mishap, it should not be treated as an accident. For the simple reason that more often than not, other innocent bystanders pay for the stupidity of the real culprit.

India’s record as far as road safety is concerned is the worst in the world. By definition then, our roads are the most unsafe. What is needed is a complete overhaul of how we address these issues. Lax laws and poor enforcement is only part of the problem. Perhaps, even stricter laws and a manic enforcement is the need of the hour. Science tells us that with age our reflexes are weakened and while we are young we are sharper. At the same time, the spirit of youth is irreverent, and as is the scenario in this case and the one where Anukool Rishi killed cyclist Kishan Lal in 2012, it dulls whatever sharpness of reflex one may have.

A law to prevent young drivers from getting behind wheels of powerful cars that are capable of wrecking havoc on the roads may sound draconian but will prevent a lot of people from dying on the roads needlessly. Let us just say anybody below 30 years is disallowed from driving anything but a small car. And let us make rash and negligent driving in cases where there has been an accident and drunk driving even in cases where there has been no damage, non bailable. It is obvious, people who buy and drive cars are rich, wealthy and influential and have no fear of the law. The need is to scare them a little bit.

As this blog has highlighted before : . Even one life lost due to the callousness of a brat is a colossal waste. And an irreparable one. This is not an issue where elections are fought and won but it is an issue that is perhaps much bigger. Somewhere, somehow we have to put an end to this.

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