BENGALURU: If listening to loud music while walking on a busy road is a part of your routine, think again. The city sees an average of two accidents per day of which pedestrians are the main victims.
Jaywalking, or walking on a road without regard for oncoming traffic, is a punishable offence. “I did not know that there was a penalty for jaywalking,” says Shwetha, an engineering student who walks to college every day.
According to the statistics provided by the Traffic Department, the number of jaywalking cases in the city has increased from 21 cases in 2014 to 3,000 in 2015. This year, the number has already touched 1,200.
R Hithendra, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic), said, “We cannot simply blame the pedestrians because some narrow roads don’t have footpaths. We have taken this problem to the BBMP and they have promised to fix it.”
But people must be vigilant on the road, he warns. “One day, I saw a girl waiting to cross the road with her earphones on. After about 15 minutes, she lost patience and ran across the road and managed to get on the median. Then it seemed like she got a call and, distracted, she continued to walk amidst heavy traffic and almost got hit by a truck. If the driver hadn’t hit the brake at the right moment, she would have died,” said a traffic constable at Wilson Garden.
Students and young office-goers are said to be caught jaywalking a lot. Some pedestrians act irresponsible even when they have their children with them.
“A woman was crossing the road with a four-year-old. She was on the phone and distracted so she didn’t notice that the child had already jumped on to the road. A car hit the child but only left her with minor injuries, thanks to a nearby speed breaker. The woman was then fined,” said a traffic police officer on MG Road.
People who travel in buses have also been hurt as they were distracted. “A 19-year-old boy got off a moving bus with his earphones plugged in. He landed right in the way of another bus and walked away, not realising that the driver had braked suddenly to avoid running over him,” said Das, a traffic constable at Shivajinagar Bus Stand.
“We have deadlines to meet. Sometimes, we need to speed. We won’t always be able to brake in a fraction of a second’s notice,” said Rajesh, a BMTC bus driver.
Similar cases happen every day in Electronics City and Madivala, traffic police sources said.
Prashanth, a traffic constable at Electronics City, shared a strange case in which a man blocked the footpath and forced pedestrians to walk on the busy road.
“He was walking around making calls. Other pedestrians, instead of asking him to make way, started walking on the road. The drivers, who had to slow down to make way for the people, started honking. I had to drag him out of the way and let him off with a warning,” he recalled.
Another policeman Lingraju (name changed) was made to see the pedestrians’ plight when he confronted a woman who was walking on the road with her earphones on.
“The road was narrow and she was in the way of traffic. When I went up to her, prepared to fine her for jaywalking, she pointed out to me that there was no footpath for her to walk on. It’s not always wrongdoing on the part of the pedestrians,” he said.
People of Bengaluru continue to deal with the risk of being run over day after day.
“I always walk around with my earphones on. I have never met with an accident,” said Hari, who has lived in the city for 12 years.
“I agree that jaywalking is wrong, but music soothes me and takes my mind off the noise and pollution on the city roads,” says Geeta, a college student.
The only way to be safe on the road, says ACP Hithendra, is to trust our brakes and not others’.