The Regional Traffic Office (RTO), Kalyan, has started a road safety campaign targeted at the school and college going students. They are teaching students how to ride a bike, but with safety measures and road sense.
Rohan Joshi, 16, has been spending an hour extra in college for the past one month, learning how to ride a bike under this initiative. “They are teaching us how to ride bikes, but with safety,” Joshi explained.
“There is a rise in number of accidents caused by youngsters overspeeding and breaking traffic rules. If we manage to solve that problem, roads will become safer for everyone,” said Sanjay Sasane, deputy Regional Traffic Officer.
“Keeping that in mind, we started this campaign along with some NGOs. Last year, the aim was to just create awareness. This year, we intend to go a step forward and enlist the help of the youth in managing actual traffic issues,” he added. The campaign focuses on the all-round development of road sense, said officials. “We start with teaching them how to ride and follow traffic rules. They then learn what kind of bikes are good for their height, their requirements and budget. This is needed because generally youngsters demand fancy bikes without realising that they can’t handle them. Then we teach them about the importance of insurance and other traffic-related documents. We put up a camp in their college premises and issue out learners licence, based on a test that they have to pass,” Sasane explained.
While 17 junior colleges were involved in last academic session, 25 are participating this year.
While students like Joshi are first time participants, those who have already done the basic course last year will advance a level. “Based on the time the colleges give us, we will train the students professionally, to deal with traffic offenders, first in their campus and then on the road,” Sasane said. According to Vishwanath Biwalkar, Head, Eagle Brigade Foundation, one of the NGOs enlisted by the RTO, the idea is to ensure not only awareness among the youth, but to ensure that the peer pressure works positively.
“While youngsters don’t listen to parents, what their classmates think is very important for them. So, if breaking the rules becomes ‘uncool’, we would have won half the battle on road accidents,” he said. “For scouts and NCC students, the hours spent in training will count towards community service hours,” an officer from the RTO said. “My father refused to buy me a motorcycle. I have managed to convince him that if I finish this training and get learner’s license, he will buy me the bike,” said Sudhir Mungikar (17), a student of a private college who is a regular participant of the training. Another student, Shreya Patil said, “It is good to understand traffic rules. I wouldn’t mind working as a traffic volunteer if it means lives can be saved.”’