Why India needs manned railway crossings

railway crossingThe Railways puts the onus of accidents at unmanned railway crossings on the vehicles which cross the railway line.

“As per Section 131 of Motor Vehicle Act and Section 161 of Indian Railway Act, the onus for safe movement over UMLC has been put entirely on the road users.”

And it is so in most of the world, so let us not castigate our country for this at least. Yes, many countries in the world have unmanned level crossings. Many countries don’t have the manpower to man every level crossing, although they do have elaborate warning systems. Now after this latest incident, where a school van crashed into a train and 13 kids died, the railways want to man all railway crossings and fix this problem. There are still at least 9000 unmanned railway crossings to fix, and accidents are waiting to happen. But the government isn’t going to the root of the problem, which is rash and negligent driving.

While we cannot blame our government or the railways for the unmanned crossings, we can certainly blame them for the faulty licenses provided, poor traffic control in cities, and lack of persecution of drunk and rash drivers. Driving safe is not in our culture, mainly because of the lack of stringent punishment. People have got used to rash driving, because it is allowed.

There are over a hundred accidents every year at unmanned crossings in India, so yeah, manning these crossings will help these idiotic and rash drivers. They talk on cell phones while driving, do not wear helmets, overtake from the wrong side, don’t stick to their lanes, break red lights, break speed limits and drink and drive.

At least at rail crossings we can do something. Keep someone there to baby sit the driver. Tell him there is a train coming because he is busy on the cell phone or simply wants to do something stupid and dangerous like race the train. But the deeper malaise are the idiots who drive, and the negligent government which gives out licenses, and even duplicate licenses (to those who have had them confiscated) without proper tests.  There is only so much that poorly staffed traffic departments can do. The buck stops with the government and our politicians.

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