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Wednesday, 16 May 2012

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Deal firmly with the 'nut behind the wheel'

Our front page picture yesterday of a nearly overturned capacious bus on the Kandy road, brought into focus once again the horrifying spectre of road indiscipline. It is not clear at the moment whether any assessment has been made of the total material damage the ill-driven, oversized vehicle has caused or whether the incident has incurred any human casualties, but it is plain to see that the damage a highway tragedy of this kind could cause is potentially mind-numbing.

It is common knowledge that the kind of huge buses seen in our picture are almost a law unto themselves. It is as if the law of the land does not have a hold on many of them. They are the pedestrians' and other motorists' nightmare. Whereas the drivers of these buses need to be extra careful and vigilant, the opposite seems to be true. Most pedestrians and road users would testify to the fact that the reckless driving engaged in by some of the drivers of these buses never fails to send a chill down their spines. So, careless are they in the handling of their vehicles and so unmindful are they of road rules.

While many of our motorists are guilty of treating with a dangerous nonchalance the rules of the road, many drivers of the category of buses under discussion, compound the problem of road indiscipline by racing against each other to get to the next bus stop first and pick up the most number of passengers. Needless to say, many of these buses are privately-owned.

Accordingly, our issue of road indiscipline is rendered more vexed by these bus operators' mania for money. Whereas comparatively, the average SLCTB driver could be expected to be law-abiding, the same does not go for many of these drivers in the employ of the private sector. Quite a few of them are in a maniacal scramble to make money and even the law of the land could be expected to be treated lightly by them.

Therefore, at bottom, the issue is one of emotional imbalance. If an individual is not in a position to keep his instinctual drives in check, the conclusion is inescapable that he is emotionally imbalanced and is not amenable to civilized restraints. This is the case with very many of our motorists. They lack the required emotional maturity and this qualifies them to be referred to as 'nuts behind the wheel.'

A basic requirement for careful and efficient motoring is the ability to keep one's emotions under control and where this is lacking road accidents of the most horrific kind could be expected. Therefore, our advice to the drivers of privately owned buses in particular is that they should impose curbs on their drive to make more and more money. 'Let not this mania get the better of you', is our admonition.

However, there could be no letting-up on law enforcement. Come what may, the motorist must be required to adhere to the law and the law enforcers of the land are obliged to figure out ways in which this operation could be facilitated. Electronic and other devices which could be helpful in this regard need to be made use of but penalties for traffic offences need to be increasingly stiff.

While these and many more 'law and order' measures need to be applied to bring road havoc under control, it should be also taken into consideration that it is the creation of a citizenry which profoundly respects the law which constitutes the final answer to the issue of highway lawlessness.

Accordingly, a civic-conscious citizenry is the ultimate answer to our road tragedies. The ethic of Reverence for Life needs to be deep -seated in the consciousness of the local citizen and the process of instilling this in the human person should begin from childhood. The citizens of this country need to respect each other and genuinely care for one another. Besides, it should be clearly pointed out with proof, that lawlessness only begets more and more social chaos, which would completely debilitate the development process. This would result in everyone being a loser.

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Filipaj has a story that not just warms our hearts but also permits courage to bloom in our hearts. He is the classic personification of the impossible dream. You would not expect a janitor to graduate - or to aspire for a take on Seneca,

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The word education is derived from the Latin word 'Educare'. The Latin word 'Educare' means 'to lead out' or 'bring forth' which indicates that through education students' knowledge, understanding and aptitude are nurtured.

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