January 12th, 2016
From The Timeline Of Riya Kartha
For everyone who lives in Bombay or another city where the concept of Party Drivers is popular, here is a small anecdote to dissuade you or perhaps make you think twice before hiring one.
In the early hours of the 10th of January, the party driver we hired to bring us back home fell asleep at the wheel. The car swerved from the right lane to the left and hit a pole on the pump house flyover on the Western Express Highway.
I was in the passenger seat, and I opened my eyes a split second before we hit the sidewalk and the pole. My friends at the back were in complete shock because they were all asleep and had no idea what had happened.
To cut a long story short, from the pictures above it is evident that the fact that we got away with fairly minor injuries and with our lives is the biggest fortune imaginable.
I have been in a lot of cars where people are lax about wearing their belts, but today I’m grateful to my dad who insisted that I wear a seatbelt ever since I was a child. It’s the single biggest reason I am alive today.
I’m posting the bare details here in order for friends, acquaintances and strangers to take notice of a few things and learn from another’s experience:
1. Party Drivers are human beings. Like any human being who works a day job and does a night shift the same day, sleep patterns take a hit. They are more likely to fall asleep at the wheel since they haven’t had a full night’s rest. After our experience, three other friends have told me they have had a similar experience where they had to shake the driver awake.
2. Wear a seatbelt wherever you are in the car. I would put this as number one on the priority list. Most fellow Indians don’t insist their kids in the back are strapped in. Common (and stupid) reasons why people don’t wear seatbelts: “it’s uncomfortable” and “I don’t like it.” It doesn’t matter. It’s not there for your comfort, it’s there to save your life.
3. From when I was very young my dad would insist that the person in the passenger seat didn’t sleep next to the driver. I would always get irritated when he woke me up and today I know why he made that a point.
It’s easier for the driver to sleep when the person in the passenger seat has fallen asleep. Make sure the person who sits next to the driver is alert, not tired or sleepy.
4. Take a course in EFR (Emergency First Response). You never know when you could be in an accident or be witness to one. By our very nature we human beings don’t learn unless we suffer from experience. Doing a course in EFR will help you understand the basics of shock, and help you clear your mind and be of concrete use to accident victims. The first few minutes of rational thinking can make all the difference.
5. Store emergency numbers on your phone. Keep emergency contacts in your wallet. Keep your battery charged. Keep a small list of your medical history, your blood group and your allergies to any medicines in your wallet. Do all those things you keep putting off because you don’t think it’ll be your turn.
In every way imaginable, my friends and I were lucky to make it out of that car alive. We also had almost negligible alcohol (less chances of blood thinning and quick bleeding), no heavy concussions or broken bones, and on closer inspection later we found that if we hadn’t hit the pole we would have gone over the edge of the flyover. We were also blessed that people came to our rescue almost at once, taking charge and getting us to hospital.
The driver broke his right arm and suffered a nose fissure but also survived the crash. He will be arrested and now the long road of formalities beckons.
We all know that road safety in India is among the poorest statistics in the world. To some extent we cannot control situations, especially when we do the responsible thing and suffer for it. But in the end it’s the simplest things that make the biggest difference. A little caution goes a long way in saving lives.
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