CHENNAI: It’s common to see people park their vehicles outside TASMAC shops and then drive back in the same car or two-wheeler after guzzling down a quarter bottle of liquor. Though it’s a violation of many road safety rules, there aren’t enough police personnel who care enough to prevent this. That’s why three youngsters have cycled 400 km along highways to raise awareness on drunken driving.
According to Thozha, the NGO that organised the event, drunk-driving kills two people in the State each day. Senthamizhan, Viswanathan and Saiyasodharan started cycling on March 25 down ECR, passing through Villupuram, Puducherry and Kalpakkam before cycling back and reaching Marina Beach on Monday evening. Resting at bus stops and staying overnight in bus stands, the trio campaigned for safe driving at public places and also in villages near the highway.
“We saw about seven accidents on our trip. We interacted with many drivers who didn’t know the road rules,” said Viswanathan.
According to Thozha, in India, there were 6,968 deaths due to drunk driving and 13% of these deaths were in TN. “In Puducherry, we informed the passenger information centre about our campaign and asked them to spread the message. But the person in-charge there said ‘why don’t you do it yourself?’ and gave us the mic. We spoke over the public address system for five minutes,” narrates Senthamizhan.
On the journey, many people shared their angst – several had lost their friends and relatives to drunk driving. “These are not exactly accidents. People know it’s against the rules to drive drunk or beyond the speed limit. Yet, they continue doing it. So it’s more like murder,” he adds. “First, there has to be stricter enforcement. Second, the TASMACs in front of schools and places of worship should be shut down — at least their timings need to be regulated and they should down shutters by 7pm,” Radhakrishnan says.
“If a person in an accident is drunk and heavily injured, 90% of the time we cannot save their life because of the effects of alcohol on the nerves and blood,” he added.