Good Samaritan saves Life: Fined by Motorway Patrol
Year of the Lord 2006. The eye-catching news headline graced the front page of an East Yorkshire newspaper in the UK.
The incident related to a car crash on a certain motorway in Yorkshire. The crash had been an ugly one as the car had apparently spun out of control and collided with the side safety rails. As luck would have it, the crashed vehicle did not block the flow of traffic as it had come to a halt in the safety lane. The traffic just flowed as normal without any heed to the nearby crash. Sounds quite heartless but no one stopped to assist the driver who was stuck inside the car.
After dozens of vehicles had gone past, a good Samaritan finally appeared on the spot. He cleared off his car on the safety lane, came to a halt and rushed across for providing assistance to the badly-injured driver. Under the given circumstances, he did his best by comforting the trapped man although he could not possibly pull him out. While he was doing that, the Motorway Marshal and the ambulance also rushed across to the accident site after getting an alert on their radio. Some of the passing cars had apparently called 112.
Fortunately, the rescue services were able to save the man by quickly transporting him to a nearby ER hospital. Our good Samaritan was acclaimed a hero of sorts for his empathetic gesture of stopping and helping a man in distress. But that is just the first half of the story. While the kudos came his way, people were shocked to learn that he had been given a fine ticket by the Marshal. His misdemeanour? Stopping his car on the safety lane a bit shoddily with a small portion of his car touching the live traffic lane.
There was quite a bit of public ‘hue and cry’ the next couple of days. How could anyone ever think of fining a guy who acted much beyond his call of duty? Absolutely ridiculous! Finally a two liner statement from the Council Office put the issue to rest:
“The Marshal has done his duty as per his brief. The aggrieved gentleman has the right to appeal. The appeal will be considered as per normal procedures.”
I marvelled about the strictness of process and the acute level of road discipline that was being enforced.
Talking about lanes and lines, circa somewhere around the same time, I too had an interesting encounter with a little fella in Beverley. This medieval town in Yorkshire is famous for its 13th century Minster, its weekly market and its music. If you are in the vicinity, you will never regret a hop-across to lively Beverley on a Saturday morning. The streets are full of fashionably dressed locals and bargains galore. The hustle-bustle and energy of the place is ever so unforgettable.
The main street on market day is closed to traffic and per force you have to park you car in slightly distant bye lanes and streets. From there, it is usually a 5-7 minute enjoyable walk to the hub centre of activity.
I vividly remember having taken the family there on a weekend outing. I parked the car in a side lane and was just about to walk across to the other side of the road. Suddenly I heard a loud shrieky yell from behind, “Look Mama, his wheel his touching the yellow line! Yes mama, please tell him, his wheel is touching the yellow line!”
I turned around and saw a 6-8 year old boy pointing to the rear wheel of my car and crying hoarse over my mini-crime. His mother was pulling him away and clearly didn’t want to make a scene about my lack of parallel parking skills. I was however clearly embarrassed in front of my family and turned back to make amends. Only when the car had been properly parked, did the little boy move away from the spot.
I had learnt a lesson in compliance rather late in life which the little champion had probably picked up in kindergarten. A red-faced ‘yours truly’ came back home with a rather bruised ego.
Almost seventeen years later, two in-country news items caught my eye recently.
The first one being:
“Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that India will become a $5 trillion economy by 2025, and the third largest economy in the world by 2027.”
And the second being:
“A six-month-old girl was killed and five people were injured after their car was hit head-on by a Police’s emergency response vehicle (ERV) coming from the opposite direction on the Gurugram-Faridabad road on Sunday morning. The police vehicle was being driven in the wrong direction. The accused driver fled the spot after the crash.”
Looking at the two pieces in unison set me wondering whether we are missing something? If this what law enforcers are doing, the rest is best left to imagination. The 5 Trillion bluster is fine. For all we know, God willing it may happen and many impoverished people may benefit. However with a backdrop of 1,55,622 on-road fatalities in a single year and increasing, one may come out of poverty but probably not out of a coffin box.
Trading ‘quality’ of life for life itself; a rotten bargain for sure.
Oh boy, we have a real long way to go.
Short of words, I rest my case,
First published at seekmediation.com on 17/01/23
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