Thursday, March 31, 2016

Goodyear Safer Roads Safer You Initiative with IRTE is a change in itself....

I vividly remember the date; not for the right set of reasons though. Some of my friends have coined it as the "Red letter day", but again not for the right set of reasons at all.

You have no clue how it feels like to occupy the window seat of a "monstrous transport" that had literally minced a yellow taxi just a couple of seconds back. I was almost in a trance back then; the dreaded pool of blood that had veiled the E.M. Bypass had no iota of poetry nested in it... it was nothing but an epitome of reverence, the plethora of death. I could see the faces of my co-passengers, they were literally stoned...sloshed with trauma. Nobody, in their wildest of dreams, would have expected to have 'brushed' past such an encounter; I could see "her" dangling forearm peeping out of the mangled window....I could spot that 'ring' as well, it was shining brightly in broad daylight, proliferating the flicker of hope...sigh, all in vain. Yes, the 'rescue' team did arrive; there was nothing much they could do...the lady had already turned pale by then, almost debilitated of her senses, her fading pulses orchestrated a shuddering debacle. 

I couldn't sleep for a week after witnessing this appalling incident; those nightmares were eating me up from deep within, I kept visualizing myself sitting right there at the back-seat...hoping for a lucky escape, not to be. The shock was too difficult to handle, I had even stopped going to the University for a week or so; such calamities not only affect the families of the departed, but people like me, the ones who carry the burden of living with these abhorrent flashbacks. It's been over 8 years now, every-time I pass through this 'cursed' orbit, those disturbing scenes come back and haunt me all over again. Two innocent souls had lost their "reason to survive" on that fateful day, the scars would remain; the incident was portrayed as an outcome of heedlessness of the chauffeur...apparently, he wasn't aware of the basic axioms of road safety and regulations. It was derived that he was trying to take a shortcut (that was never there) by over-taking an ambulance and ironically, paid the penalty. 

Well, it's easy to draw a denouement, it's easy to put the sword on someone else's shoulder and shrug off all the responsibility...but at the end of the day, we need to save these inculpable "souls". We all have our beloved ones waiting eagerly at the hut, to greet us with extended arms at the end of the day...that indeed completes the cycle. Talking from personal experience, I have lost my cousin brother in a terrible car-accident when he was just 19; propelled by the exuberance of youth and incognizant with the basic on-road safety guidelines; he broke the speed-barrier and drove 'us' into abysmal darkness. I don't know whether I could pen down my emotions through this post, but adversity like this shakes you right from the core. Even his soul-mate sitting right beside the driver's seat was shoved to death; she wasn't wearing her seatbelt either. You keep reading about road-accidents in the newspapers all day, infact due to the exponential increase in frequency of such updates, people tend to overlook them. But believe me, such alluvions etch deep within... somewhere, somewhere very deep.

Going by the statistics, approximately 1274 road accidents occur in the country everyday on the streets with the "Gory 2014" recording around 16 deadly accidents per hour on an average. As per a recent study by the Times of India, the top five states - Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Rajasthan accounted for over 40% of the fatalities. UP topped the list with 16,284 deaths, but Tamil Nadu with over 15,000 lives lost was much worse given its relatively smaller size. During that period, road accident accounted for a death-toll count of 382 daily, that is in effect 350 percent more in comparison to that of terrorism. However it's alarming enough to note that the Indian road safety laws do not meet the best practice requirements for four out of five risk factors: enforcing speed limits, prevention of drunk driving, safety of children and use of helmets. The scenario in Bengal is however growing from bad to worse in terms of accidents caused due to rash driving of the yellow-taxis; the percentage of accidents caused as a result has gone up by 6-7% in the last couple of years. I had once overheard an elderly gentleman requesting an arrogant taxi driver to drive slow through the over-crowded Burrabazar area; his earnest appeals could be heard even from a distance, sadly it made no impact. Honestly speaking, I'm perturbed...and concerned as well; these days I'm very unsure of boarding a taxi or a rented car, you never know what waiting for you as the wheels kisses the boulevard.

Well, as they say, no matter how complicated the problem is, the disclosure is pretty much round the corner- it was on such a "anxious" car-ride from Salt Lake Sector V to the New Secretariat that I came across a Kiran Bedi's tweet and it immediately changed my perspective. I wanted to know more about Goodyear's path-breaking initiative and to my utter astonishment, I did figure out that the hashtag #GoodyearSaferRoads was trending on twitter for the last 24 hours. Another prominent hashtag that caught my attention in this period was #SaferRoadsSaferYou. I quickly surfed through the content shared with the hashtag and what I deciphered was prodigious in true sense of the term. It's often said that whenever the problem statement seems formidable enough, go back to the roots....and this has been the backbone of this pragmatic initiative by Goodyear India. Their closely knit collaboration with the Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE) for formulating a unique road safety programme ‘Safer Roads, Safer You’, has been one of the key talking points of late. The initiative is aimed at offering complimentary training to selected taxi drivers in Delhi NCR and Mumbai. It goes without saying that the vision of this initiative i.e. to train 2,555 drivers in Delhi and Mumbai between December 2015 and March 2016 is a far-sighted one. A one-day workshop was conducted for groups of 20 taxi drivers to create awareness and cover critical aspects such as defensive driving, passenger comfort and safety, vehicle maintenance, personal management and incident management. Furthermore, a selected set of drivers were handed an incentive of Rs 500 and a complimentary accidental death insurance policy of Rs 2,00,000. Most importantly, a completion certificate was also handed over to all the participants of the workshop; that is an important record to keep as well. It pretty much meets the certification requirements as well. You can read more about the initiative here.

Some inspiring words from Rajeev Anand, Vice Chairman & Managing Director of Goodyear India- “Goodyear India is committed to helping build and support collaborative programs that create positive outcomes for the people, communities and the world around us. Specifically, the company focuses on promoting safe mobility, helping to make the communities stronger & safer. With ‘Safer Roads, Safer You,’ we hope to create a culture of safe driving and passenger care in the taxi service industry to help increase ridership of the public transportation system, thereby benefiting the fleet owners, taxi drivers, police organizations & end-users”. This would certainly qualify as one of the most effective & efficacious initiatives undertaken by any Indian brand so far.

Goodyear Safer Roads Safer You:
 Drivers Sensitization Session
Source: Twitter
“With our association with Goodyear India, we hope to improve the customer service standards and to control occurrences of traffic violations. This initiative will address these issues through its various workshops and will provide an opportunity to the State to regain the trust of people, especially tourists, in the taxi service and its public transportation system.”- Dr. Rohit Baluja, President, Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE) aptly summed it up. This collaboration would certainly ensure proper sensitization of the vehicle owners and drivers, thereby ensuring a safer and impregnable driving experience on the busy Indian roads. We sincerely hope to see an exponential fall in the count of road-accidents in next 5 years or so; my sincere regards to Goodyear India for taking up the first step in this very respect. You, my friend, have led from the front and pretty much shown us the way! You can connect to GoodYear's official Twitter handle for more details about this path-breaking initiative.
You can read more about this initiative by visiting the following links: Article 1, Article 2, Article 3, Article 4, Article 5, Article 6 .

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