Two-wheelers, a parental nightmare

Prof. Mathew C Ninan,  Director of Little Rock, Brahmavar, Udupi
Published in the Deccan Herald dated July 13, 2022

Most parents face a huge dilemma when their children, particularly their sons turn teenagers. One of the items on the youngsters’ wish-list is a motorbike. They keep reminding their parents how they would turn 18 in the near future when they qualify to ride a motorbike. Chances are they would have already learned to ride, on the sly. Parents will blissfully be unaware of this one, among their son’s other escapades. 

Interestingly, there are some parents who share their son’s excitement. They would gloat over the fact that their son rides a bike even at the early age of 14 or 15. They get some vicarious gratification when their son does what they themselves could not. 

The humble bicycle has gone out of fashion for the new generation. It’s the motorbike that gives them a macho image. The more expensive it is, the more glamorous it becomes. They dream of riding into the distant horizon, witnessed by many admiring eyes. 

The new generation of parents, who made it a habit to shower their children with lavish gifts, in season and out of season, now have a tough call at hand. It’s a nightmare for them. The proverbial ‘to be or not to be’ haunt them day and night.

 Every parent knows all about the heady mix of a motorbike and young blood. But the advertisement blitz keeps luring youngsters into buying bikes that are flashy, fast and furious. They mesmerise the youngsters towards that ultimate experience. 

Sadly, there is a dampener; the chilling story of several accidents involving young bike riders. There is perhaps no neighbourhood which hasn’t witnessed a few gory instances. Young lives nipped in the bud! Sometimes parents lose a lone child leaving them to grieve for the rest of their life. Road accidents are reported with an alarming frequency and two-wheelers account for a large proportion of them. 

As many as 158,964 two-wheeler road accidents were reported in India in 2020, which caused 56,873 deaths, Minister of Road Transport and Highways said in Parliament recently. He added that the latest issue of the World Road Statistics (WRS) 2018 reported that India ranks No.1 per number of persons killed and No.3 globally per number of persons injured in road accidents. It’s yet to be seen what measures the government will effect in response to this spine-chilling report. 

The law stipulates that two-wheeler riders must wear helmets. However, most youngsters are reluctant to wear them. They perhaps don’t want to miss the thrill of the cool breeze caressing their styled hair as they ride into the vistas of the brave new world. 

A few wear a helmet grudgingly when they spot a policeman. They hang it on the handlebar as long as they can. They believe that they are invincible. Accidents are for others. They do not pay heed to slogans like ‘if you got a head, you need a helmet!, if you’ve got brain, wear a helmet’ etc. They are not mature enough.Dire warnings also fail to move them. One of the slogans says, ‘Protect your head – you may not get a second one’. That one is pretty straight and ominous. Still some of them are not moved. 

Accidents kill or maim. Some are destined to live in a vegetative state, burdening their parents and dear ones. It is a long saga of suffering, most pathetic. A vibrant, full-blooded young man is reduced to a mere skeleton. A life that mimics life; not even a shadow of the former self! Despite all of this, youngsters just refuse to allow common-sense to get the better of their bravado. This leads to inevitable tragedies. 

We often wonder why the government cannot take some stringent measures to arrest this situation. Many youngsters start riding a motorbike or driving a car without proper training. They manage to get a license somehow. If they are taught the rules of the road before issuing them a license, chances are that they will observe the rules. Unfortunately, that does not happen. Traffic courtesies and safety rules are ignored wilfully by many of them. They drive as if they own the road, and all others are intruders. 

A Driving License becomes a license to kill. This is the unfortunate reality today. How many families have been plunged into endless sorrow with the loss of a dear one! The deplorable condition of our roads also contributes towards accidents. Why permit speed bikes when the roads are unfit for them? 

Our law-makers should wake up and do something. The least they can do is to make licensing a rigorous professional exercise. Over-speeding should be checked effectively. Of course, accidents cannot be eliminated completely, but they can surely be minimized. That brings us back to the plight of the parents again. Let them take a call, wisely. Ensure that the youngster gets a rigorous systematic training to ride or drive before he gets a license. Let him also take a pledge that he will never be reckless. Convince him that it’s all about life, precious life.

(The writer is Director, Little Rock Institutions, Brahmavar, Udupi)

Read more at: