Two youths in Patna ride a two-wheeler with the rider having plugged in headphones, oblivious to the surroundings. Picture by Ashok Sinha
Earphones and roads make for a deadly cocktail.
Rehan (20) had his earphones plugged in while walking down Bailey Road. When this correspondent told him it could prove dangerous, the youth had a ready answer. "I always keep the sound of my headphones low whenever I am listening to music. I don't think there is any problem in it," he said.
Rehan is just one of many who walk or drive with earphones plugged in, be it their mobiles, tablets or iPods. Though the practice is dangerous, many residents do not seem to be aware of it.
The Telegraph, moving around in different places on Friday such as Boring Road, Boring Canal Road, SP Verma Road, Fraser Road, found it to be a common affair.
Rehan's friend Tausif, however, differed with him. "I never use a headphone while walking or driving. But I use headphones to listen to songs whenever I am commuting by autorickshaw. At that time, I don't think I need to pay attention to what is happening on the road," said Tausif.
Like Rehan, Aryan Kumar, student of English honours of AN College, was also found using headphones, while riding a bicycle.
Told about the danger of using headphones while riding a bicycle, he had a bizarre explanation.
"I listen to music everyday on my way back home from college. I feel uncomfortable on my cycle because of the heat. I use the headphone to listen to my favourite songs so I can divert my mind from all these," said Aryan.
Nidhi Ranjan (24), who was riding a scooter at Dakbungalow Chowk, too, was seen using headphones.
Nidhi said she was habituated to using headphones while riding. "I do this everyday and so far I have not faced any kind of problem. I don't using headphone while driving can invite accidents. People who don't use headphones while driving or walking also meet with accidents. It's just your fate," said Ranjan.
According to experts, police cannot penalise people for using headphone while driving or walking because there is no clear law in this regard. However, those who use cellphones while driving or walking on the road can be penalised.
Dinesh Kumar, a Patna High Court lawyer, said: "Section 177 of the Motor Vehicles Act talks about a fine between Rs 100 and Rs 300 for using a cellphone while driving. If such an action causes inconvenience or poses a hazard to road users in any form, the fine is Rs 1,000."
On steps being taken to stop the menace, superintendent of police (traffic) Prantosh Kumar Das said: "We are taking all necessary measures to stop this menace but we admit we have failed in making people abide by norms. Recently, I penalised a senior cop and his wife because they were found flouting this rule. At present, regulating traffic has become a daunting task for us because manpower crunch. Soon, we are going to be provided with additional force. The decision has been taken at the level of the director-general of police. However, as soon as this problem is sorted out, we would take stringent action against those found flouting norms."