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The nation was shocked yet again when a 19-year old boy was shot dead allegedly by a Bihar lawmaker’s son in a case of road rage. The teenager’s ‘fault’ is said to have been that he overtook the latter’s car. This, sadly, is not the only such instance in the past few months. In Lucknow, a man was shot by people allegedly boasting of political connections, when he had so much as kept his hand on one of their vehicles parked by the wayside, while taking a break from work in the evening. Sights of people with vehicles sporting flags of political parties and hogging the streets is nothing new either. In such a situation, one cannot help but wonder who will guard the public against this menace?

As in many cases in the past, the action taken against the accused took considerable time and he was arrested after more than 50 hours of the incident. As in many cases in the past, the accused had an alibi and tried to beguile the course of justice by claiming that he was not even present at the spot of the incident. As in many cases in the past, eyewitness accounts razed the accused’s defence to the ground. But will the course of justice this time also be like the many cases in the past? Let us hope not.

Road rage has become a prevalent cause of violence and death in India, and not just one attributed to the politically-affiliated people but to many other heedless people. What is causing India to be so angry and impatient? It is true that our road infrastructure is still on the way to perfection, the roads are congested and there is an incessant honking and people skipping traffic signals at will. But none of this can explain or justify the impulse to kill another person merely because he took your parking space or overtook you or because you think you have the right to special treatment by way of your affiliation to a political party.

The first step to solving this problem is acknowledging that there is a problem. Once we recognize this, we should try to address the situation. One of the ways could be including a counseling session as part of driving lessons and the subsequent driving tests conducted by the Regional Transport Office.Currently, a person trying to learn to drive is taught the technicalities of driving and the vehicle itself, but merely learning about traffic signals is of no use until we learn to conduct ourselves well on the road, including behaving in a civilized manner with fellow drivers, pedestrians and so on. There should be laws to punish people involved in road rage incidents on the spot, and specialized personnel should be deployed to keep such incidents in check.

Road rage is spreading across the country like a plague and the only way to control it is to take the problem head on.

 

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