Traffic Accidents in Siliguri

Recently I had the misfortune of being involved in the management of a young boy. He was the only child of his parents, a bright young man who was studying for a Master’s degree in Microbiology in the North Bengal University. Exams were scheduled and he was crossing the road to catch an auto on Hill Cart Road. A fast moving SUV crashed into him. The fault was probably the boy’s, he had been talking to his father while he crossed the road and did not notice the SUV. The driver of the vehicle , to his credit, did not zoom away but stopped, took the boy to the Siliguri hospital, where he was told that he should be shifted to a place where better facilities were available. He was shifted to this facility, admitted to the ICU, ventilated and finally died at 9 pm on the same day.

The point is that the death was totally unnecessary. He was ignorant, or ignored the basic rules of the road. Possibly the driver of the vehicle was also speeding.. Basically he was only the latest victim of the totally chaotic traffic conditions in Siliguri. I was just making a rough calculation based on newspaper reports about the number of fatalities from traffic accidents in and around Siliguri. Over the past month there have been at least 18 fatalities, and these are only those which made headlines of the newspaper that I read regularly. In addition there must have scores of injuries, both major and minor, which led to loss of man days and cost the people concerned a huge sum of money.

Anybody who walks, or drives on the roads of Siliguri is aware of the problem. I sometimes feel that many of those on the road seem to be visited with a death wish. Motorcycles whizzing past without any regard to traffic rules, nobody wearing a helmet, ignoring traffic signals, cycles weaving into and around the fast moving traffic, cars refusing to yield to incoming traffic even when they are supposed to, it’s a jungle out there!

The Traffic Police are unable to control this. Part of it is of course is the total lack of administration in West Bengal today. Whoever wants to, flouts the rules and the police are helpless. The political leadership is also helpless. Having once mounted the tiger of populism, they cant get off even if they want to. So who is left?

It is absolutely essential to have movement initiated by citizens to remedy this matter. Everybody must realize that death stalks the streets of Siliguri and the persons responsible are ourselves. If we do not, death will continue to visit us unexpectedly and suddenly. Students’ bodies, trades unions, teachers groups, Rotary clubs, anybody and anybody should be roped in. After all it is a matter that concerns all of us.

Please lead the way somebody!

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