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Wednesday, 21 March 2012

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Better be late than sorry...

The unfortunate death of a young man severed in two by the train he fell under, highlights the maddening rush everybody is in to get to where they are going. In his case, the steps of the carriage gave way and he fell. In the case of many others, rushing to board a train or a bus, it seems a minute would make a difference. Between life and death.

You meet them on the road everyday. Those who are in a perennial hurry - they will not wait for the light to change, will not wait for the train at the crossing. They will not allow another vehicle to turn in front of them even though courtesy would demand otherwise and will not even stop for the yellow pedestrian line. Why are they in such a hurry? Some of them drive on, their brakes screeching only to have their lunatic drive put to a stop at the next red light.

Railway crossing

We Sri Lankans have no road rules we willingly follow. It often takes a policeman hiding in the trees to put some sense into those of us who drive the roads. Not many would give way if you want to turn. Others would think nothing of driving past pedestrians on the yellow line. Yet others would not stop even if it means putting your life in danger. Still others care nothing for driving after a drink.

The pedestrians are not much different either. At the busy Nugegoda railway crossing, you see pedestrians hurry through the crossing even as trains approach. Often, the pavement traders have to yell warning the passer by that a train is approaching. It seems we are too pre-occupied with our destinations that we are willing to put out lives at risk just to get there.

We have overcrowded trains - public transport is overwhelmed and burdened with more and more people trying to work on time or get back home. Yet it is up to each individual to make sure that to be safe is better than being sorry. It might be just a minuteís difference but that can make a major impact on staying alive or dying under the wheel of a bus or a train.

Traffic lights

It is better to be late than sorry. If you could pause for a minute and take a deep breath, you regain your balance. And you would know that it is better to let the already moving train or the bus to go. Better still, the best solution might be to leave home earlier than usual.

Everyday, tragedies like this happen because we have been too careless. Either as pedestrians or drivers - we do not show empathy if we have it in our maddening rush to get to where we have to go. There would be no tears to weep for an unfortunate loved one if we exercise caution on the road. It cuts both ways. Some pedestrians seem to think that the yellow line is there to cross whenever and wherever they want - they are expected to watch out for traffic when they cross. Sadly, we do not remember any of this when we take to the road.

Often times reckless driving does not really earn us that extra time. All it does is create stress for us and for the others using the road. Waiting for the red light or the yellow line is worth the effort. You donít have to kick your heels. There are many who have a delayed start to thank for being alive. On 9/11, many who were held back by a late morning, traffic lights and traffic, were later alive merely because they were late to get into the World Trade Centre in New York on that fateful morning.

Exercise caution

The young man who was unfortunate enough to be severed in two, left behind a grieving mother and a sister for whom he was the sole breadwinner. Everyone will forget his death in a few days for that is how life is. But there is a lesson there for those willing to take it - exercise caution and be careful when you are travelling. It could save your life. There are still others - whether driving or walking, who it seems cannot spend a minute without being on the phone. They are in a world of their own and rarely observe what is going around them. Even though there are tough traffic rules in place, you still see drivers talking on the phone. Sometime ago, media used to report of young women driving with their feet while talking or texting on the phone, of course thankfully not in Sri Lanka.

We need to learn to respect our own lives even if do not seem to care much for the others. We need to display caution and patience when travelling.

 

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