Kadambari Badami, 37, an urban planner and pedestrian safety activist from Chennai, was driving near Doddaballapur Road on the outskirts of Bangalore when a Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) bus, which was in the wrong lane, hit her small car head-on, killing her on the spot.
Fatal accidents involving BMTC buses are not a new occurrence — 89 people were killed in 2012 and 50 in 2013. But Kadambari’s death on March 2 has jolted her family into starting an online campaign — ‘Not a Statistic’ — to stress the need for safe driving and ensure that reckless drivers are strictly punished.
The campaign was spearheaded by Kadambari’s husband Mayur Vamanan, who reached the scene of the accident barely 10 minutes after the BMTC bus had turned his wife’s car into a mangled heap.
‘Not a Statistic’, now has 918 members, comprising experts in transport and urban development, friends, family and former colleagues of Kadambari.
Vamanan says the campaign was launched as they felt that not enough was done to tackle recklessness of BMTC drivers. “Not enough has been done to prevent it and no one is held responsible. Everybody thinks these are stand-alone incidents… My wife herself had campaigned for the safety of both motorists and pedestrians and the Chennai City Corporation had approved several of her ideas,” Vamanan says.
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The group is a forum for discussion and ideation on urban transport safety and the proposals that emerge will be placed before the government, Vamanan says. One of main objectives of the group is to make negligent driving as serious an offence as crimes involving the loss of life, by demanding stringent punitive action against reckless drivers.
One of the things that struck Kadambari’s friends and family following her death was how easily the offending bus driver was allowed to continue to lead a normal life. They said that they were disappointed that the driver was granted bail within days of surrendering to the police, despite him fleeing the accident site without helping the victim.
The group has already prepared a petition to be placed before the BMTC seeking a change in the bus service provider’s water-tight trip sheet system which they believe is a major reason for BMTC drivers driving at breakneck speeds on the congested streets of the city.