Where distraction is deadly

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FAISAL AKHOON

THE use of mobile phones while driving has become a pervasive issue around the world and Kashmir is no exception. Despite the inherent dangers associated with distracted driving, there has been a concerning trend wherein the use of mobile phones while being behind the wheel is considered ‘normal’.

The dangerous tendency to operate mobile phones while driving is prevalent among all – elders and youngsters, men and women. And needless to say, it is causing many fatal & serious road mishaps.

  • That killing need to be socially connected

The use of smart phones has significantly increased the temptation to use these devices while driving. Be it texting, making calls, browsing social media, taking selfies or sharing reels, the mobile phone has impacted the mind of humanity and made it gravely necessarily to be socially connected all the time. Disasters on roads are the result of this obsession. Such drivers endanger not only their own lives but also of fellow travellers and pedestrians, making them extremely uneasy on roads.

Two-wheeler riders are no exception, as you see them ride their vehicles with one hand while using the other hand to hold their mobile phones. Recently a deadly accident took place down Kangan road wherein the rider was killed on the spot with his internal organs scattered all over the road. The cause behind the accident? The  mobile phone.

  • Indifferent traffic cops

One of the crucial factors contributing to this dangerous trend is the perceived leniency of the traffic police. While traffic regulations explicitly prohibit the use of mobile phones while driving, the enforcement of these laws has often been inconsistent. Many drivers believe they can get away with this dangerous behaviour due to lack of strict penalties or inadequate monitoring.

But, says Naseer Qazi, a traffic official in Srinagar: “People are becoming careless and fearless by the day, yet it is mandatory to be careful and fearful for the sake of one’s own life and others’ too. People, while driving, think they can manage their phones well along with the driving but they forget it is just a matter of seconds when you may just lose control. Such over-confidence kills people. On our part, we consistently notify people about traffic rules and regulations. We book challans and issue penalties. But people are simply careless and just not bothered.  They need to understand that traffic rules need to be obeyed for their own safety and the safety of others. It is a part of courtesy”.

  • Challenges in checking defaulters

Violations of traffic police regulations in context of use of mobile phones while driving could be connected to constraints in human resources. There always aren’t enough officers on the road to effectively monitor and penalise distracted drivers. Also drivers often use their devices *discreetly, making it difficult for traffic police to identify offenders.

  • Safe roads no more

The general acceptance of using mobile phones while driving poses severe risks to road safety. Distracted drivers are more likely to be involved in accidents, leading to injuries and fatalities. Furthermore, this behaviour contributes to traffic congestion and reduces overall traffic efficiency.

Reyaz Mohidin, PhD scholar at the University of Kashmir, says: “Using mobile phones while driving and discarding traffic regulations is a threat to everyone’s safety. We have witnessed severe accidents which led to deaths where the root cause was distraction while driving or riding a vehicle. The traffic police need to increase their presence on the roads and actively enforce regulations. Educational campaigns should be conducted to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. These campaigns can target both drivers and passengers to discourage mobile phone usage while driving. The development and implementation of technology that can detect and penalise distracted drivers, can be an effective tool to curb this behaviour”.

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