Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Revisiting the ‘only three at the back rule’ for three wheelers

In an earlier blog entry, I agreed with the new regulations, (I am not sure if it has been inacted) that said that only three individuals can go at the back) This was because it was just plain unsafe for more to travel, especially if it upsets the equilibrium of this quite unstable mode of transport, and reflected by the number of accidents involving three wheelers reported daily. If one asks a three wheeler owner, they would put the blame squarely on the larger vehicle that is also often involved, a bus or a tipper truck the most likely ones. Often the driver of the latter does not even see the three wheeler, due to the height of the driver seat.

It has now become a huge issue in the rural areas, where bus services are few and far between and people are packed into three wheelers with many sharing the fare so that they can get from A to B. If one were to share the fare three ways it might still be too high for the poorest who do not have a bus to rely on. In that sense I do agree that the three wheeler has provided relief for people at the bottom end of the ladder to go about their essential business, but only if they can share the cost more ways than three.

There is a dilemma here. This can cause accidents with many fatalities and then there will be agitation for safety based restrictions. Just as seat belts have only recently been enforced and that only for English number plated vehicles, regulations governing three wheelers are also overdue. When a country grows and problems crop up, one has to set standards to mitigate problems and therein lies the quandary.

The driver also lays his life on the line when his three wheeler is packed and so should also shoulder the blame if he agrees to this overloaded fare. School children who we also try to protect are packed in like sardines, because the parents can share the cost but no three ways. What is the compromise?

I do not have an answer. One example is that Insurance can only agree to cover the driver and accidents if only three are carried, where the risk is transferred squarely to the driver for overloading. It has to be some form indirect control, where the risk is assessed by the risk taker before he undertakes the risky journey. The parents must agree to the risk of the lives of their children. It is a contract between the driver and passengers.

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