Road safety is top priority for VS Sureshkumar from Coimbatore

The 53-year-old, with much dedication, has been conducting road safety awareness campaigns every day for the past decade.
Vizhi Suresh
Vizhi Suresh(Photo | S Senbagapandiyan, EPS)

COIMBATORE: In the bustling city of Coimbatore resides a man in his early 50s who never misses a day to traverse around the place and alert people about road safety. With a mic in one hand and a sign board in another, VS Sureshkumar goes around the streets with a board that reads “Road Safety is Life Safety”. He makes short conversations with pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers to spread the message. With his van converted into a makeshift stage, the man’s voice booms through the streets as he drives around.

Coimbatore is a city known for its tourist activities, educational institutes and flourishing industries. Besides this, the city also holds the highest position in terms of road accidents. Sureshkumar extends his helping hand to the city police and NGOs who are trying to raise awareness about road safety and monitor traffic infractions to decrease road accidents.

The 53-year-old, with much dedication, has been conducting road safety awareness campaigns every day for the past decade. He accomplishes this noble task by travelling around the city in an eco-friendly vehicle, sponsored by the Rotary Club in 2013. He is known under the banner Vizhi, meaning awake.

Looking back on his past mistake of not wearing a helmet, Sureshkumar recollects, “In 2008, while heading to a junction on a one-way street on my bike, a trio on a bike came from the opposite direction at high speed and rammed my bike. I sustained serious head injuries and remained unconscious in the ICU for three days.

Sureshkumar has been going around the streets of Coimbatore alerting people about road safety
Sureshkumar has been going around the streets of Coimbatore alerting people about road safety(Photo | S Senbagapandiyan, EPS)

Later, I thought about how wearing a helmet would have minimised the injuries. I was discharged after 10 days and was on complete bed rest for a few months. I still remember how it took a toll on my mental health as well. My family had to look after me and I could see the pain in their eyes. It seemed like my second life, that too for a purpose — to save people from repeating my mistake.” Sureshkumar is an auto consulting business owner.

His initiatives are not only limited to roads; he manages a YouTube channel in the same name ‘Vizhi’ where he uploads traffic awareness videos. “My videos are circulated widely in the city and I can see more people wearing helmets and seatbelts, and obeying traffic rules now. I consider this as the result of my efforts,” he says. Sureshkumar recalls some tragic accidents that have shook him from the core. He states that sometimes a minor callous attitude of motorists leads to a major accident. “Ultimately, it is not just the person who dies in the accident; the incident leaves a scar on his/her family too,” he notes.

(Photo | S Senbagapandiyan, EPS)

Sureshkumar hopes traffic safety rules would be included as non-major subjects in schools by the state government. “Such an initiative will have an impact among the youth,” he adds.

The good samaritan advises motorists to avoid the use of mobile phones while crossing the road, wear a seat-belt while driving, avoid drunk driving, respect traffic rules, and make use of the 108 ambulance service while in need. He also asks pedestrians and commuters to obey the traffic rules and be cautious while crossing the roads and taking public transports. Sureshkumar also pastes reflective stickers on dividers to curb accidents at night. His seemingly-small acts is a reminder about the importance of road discipline.

Additionally, he presents cloth bags and other small tokens of gratitude to those to demonstrate responsible behaviour on the road.

With a deep sense of responsibility, he also extends his reach beyond road safety, dedicating his spare time to enthusiastic school students and educating them on the importance of environmental conservation, the beauty of the Tamil language, and the value of preserving their cultural heritage, his words sparking a sense of curiosity and awareness in the young minds. “I will continue to render my efforts for the noble cause in this society till my last breath,” Sureshkumar pledges.

(Edited by Srestha Choudhury)

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