Reckless and dangerous driving snuffs out a young life | Sunday Observer

Reckless and dangerous driving snuffs out a young life

In the early hours of November 12, eighteen-year-old Amaan Kitchil, a student of a leading school in Colombo lost his life in an accident that can only be described as tragic. The accident which could have been avoided also left several other students of the school seriously injured and fighting for their lives, shaking the very core of Colombo society. As the incident met with outpouring grief from family, friends, teachers and past pupils, the students were described as active, talented and exemplary students of the college.

As seven injured boys continue to receive treatment at the National Hospital of Sri Lanka with three of them still in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), the Police has determined the cause of accident as reckless and dangerous driving on the part of one student. The CCTV footage of the incident was proof to the fact while also revealing the excessive speed the vehicles were travelling in at the time.

Meanwhile, the fact that only one of the drivers involved in the accident had a valid driving licence at the time too alarmed many concerned. It was revealed that another student was driving making use of a learner’s permit issued to him. This latest accident has therefore resulted in the authorities calling for the new gazette implementing higher fines to be implemented immediately hoping it would act as a future deterrent and avoid the loss of young lives.

Fatal accident

Being active members of the school’s media unit, the students involved in the accident, including Amaan had worked tirelessly to organize an upcoming event of the school on that day. Having finished the task, a group of 12 students had left in a red cab which carried 10 students and a car carrying the other two boys.

According to the Police the accident had occurred around 1.50 am near Silva Lane, Rajagiriya when the speeding red cab had veered off course crashing into the parapet wall of a nearby residence. The car following the cab too had veered off the road crashing into a wall on the opposite side of the road.

The CCTV footage has prompted the Police to investigate if the vehicles were racing each other at the time. Officials from the Welikada Police say action will be taken against the drivers for reckless and dangerous driving while one driver will be charged with violating the conditions of the Learner’s Permit.

According to National Co-ordinator (Training) Disaster Management and Trauma System Development and Triage Team Leader at National Hospital of Sri Lanka, Pushpa Ramyani Zoysa accidents involving youngsters are a very common occurrence.

Crucial first year

“We see such serious accidents involving youngsters quite often,” she said explaining that many youth succumb to fatal accidents mainly within the first year of obtaining a vehicle and a driving licence.

According to her avoiding accidents and dangerous situations come with experience. “Inexperience in driving are the cause of many fatal accidents involving youngsters” she said adding that therefore parents should also be vigilant about their children at the initial stages.

Zoysa points out that many youth are attracted to speed and are often found driving in a fast and reckless manner once they are given a vehicle. “It is up to the parents to teach them what is right and wrong from an early age” she said adding that parents should bear the responsibility if they allow a child to drive without a valid licence. “They should think twice before giving a vehicle to a child,” she said.

According to Zoysa people fail to follow the most basic road rules which continues to take innocent lives with the numbers rising yearly. “Patients of serious accidents often say they wish they had driven more carefully,” she said pointing out that however that realization often comes too late and at the cost of innocent victims of accidents.

No proper training

Chairman of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) Dr. Sisira Kodagoda said today many people even with a driving licence have no proper training and practice on how to drive a vehicle. “Some obtain driving licences in devious ways” he said adding that drivers with no awareness of road rules and training continue to cause fatal accidents.

According to Dr. Kodagoda, in recent times many people were forced to obtain driving licences due to new regulations regarding vehicle registrations having to be in the name of the vehicle owner, however issues caused by unlicensed as well as inexperienced drivers continue. “Many parents, especially in rural areas purchase motorbikes and three wheelers for their sons,” he said adding that many use these vehicles without proper training and a riding or driving license. “They don’t even know the basic road signals” he said exasperatedly.

Therefore, as Kodagoda points out, the new gazette bringing in the higher fines for road rule violations is an immediate need for Sri Lanka. “We can avoid accidents such as this at least by 50 per cent” he said adding that the delayed regulations will somehow be brought into force before the end of year 2017.