|Late Gopinath Munde|
Munde was on way to airport in his official Maruti Sx4, seated in the back, when a Tata Indica hit the Sx4 from side. It is rumoured that an escort vehicle accompanying Munde's car hit the minister's car from behind causing dual impact. This version is unverified and unsubstantiated.
What ever way the accident may have unfolded, post mortem report suggested that Munde suffered two injuries that proved fatal. One, the impact ruptured his liver, causing excessive bleeding; two, his head hit somewhere causing fractures of two crucial vertebrae of neck, which in turn damaged part of the brain that controls respiration. This in turn stopped his respiration leading to cardiac arrest.
Forensic experts presume that the rupture to liver was caused by the armrest inside the car, which hit Munde after the Indica impact, while the second hit perhaps came from behind. Investigation will tell in the truth in this hypothesis.
What ever the case may be, it is clear that putting on a seat belt could have saved life for the BJP leader, at least minimized the impact.
The accident has suddenly driven government agencies to make laws stricter to ensure that people follow traffic rules. But what is being neglected is the individual awareness and concern of vehicle drivers and occupants to voluntarily take safety measures not for the sake of fear of the law, but own safety.
In our country, where road traffic, particularly on highways, provide no semblance to orderliness, it is more imperative that people take caution for their own sake. The incident may soon be forgotten and people will be back to normal.
Before we forget, let me tell you results of a research conducted by an agency named JP Research on the Mumbai-Pune expressway last year at the instance of the Maharashtra Highway Safety Patrol (HSP). The research was to study accidents on the expressway and recommend improvements to minimise them.
Astoundingly, the Bangalore-based agency noticed that 46 percent of fatalities in accidents on the eight-lane expressway occurred as drivers and occupants did not put on seat belts. That amounts to half the casualties or one in every two. The other reasons attributed being the structure of the vehicle and non-adherence to lane system etc.
Even if we presume that the other two reasons are difficult to amend, the research also means that one could certainly bring down fatalities in accidents on the expressway by half by just ensuring that drivers and occupants put on seat belts.
Unfortunately, car drivers observe most of the safety norms for the sake of not geting penalised rather than for own concern. We put seat belts only in the front seats (that too in metros and urban areas), load passengers on rear seats more than prescribed norms, and more importantly, break traffic rules as if they are meant to be observed by everybody except you.
And the real law offenders are the rich, wealthy and the powerful, who zoom fast in their luxury cars and actually need to take more precaution than the other small car owners who breach speed limits and traffic rules too infrequently.
How many VIPs do you see putting on seat belts in the rear? How many politicians and the rich overspeed on highways just because their vehicles can pump in power on the highways?
May it be Munde who lost life or former Chhattisgarh chief minister, Ajit Jogi who is disabled waist below, it all boils down to not following safety norms while travelling in a car. I remember a Congress functionary from Pune, who broke both his legs when a cow suddenly emerged in the middle of the Mumbai-Pune expressway a few years ago. He too could have survived it had he put on seat belts.
Rather than penalizing offenders and making law stricter, it is essential that people are made aware and educated about own safety. But it is unfortunate that people learn a lesson only the hard way.