September this year came to a tragic end with the death of musical prodigy Balabhaskar and his young daughter Tejaswini.
Balabhaskar and his family were travelling back to Trivandrum when their driver lost control of the car and slammed into a tree. While the child was rushed to hospital immediately, she did not survive and was declared dead. Balabhaskar, his wife and the driver were pronounced in critical condition and struggled for their lives. Unfortunately, Balabhaskar passed away soon after. His wife is still fighting for her life.
A Sobering Reminder
Amidst the tragedy, social media has been flooded with safety advice and prompts on motor-vehicle safety. Though such posts have been criticised for their insensitivity there remains a need to seriously discuss responses to accidents involving motor vehicles and what to do if you are caught in one.
A study conducted in Trivandrumwas released by the National Transportation Planning and Research Center and showed that while 77.32% of drivers wore their seatbelts, the percentage of front seat passengers wearing them was only 15.06% while the percentage for rear-seat passengers was a meagre 0.72%.
A Silent Threat
As far back as the year 2000, Harvard Center for Risk Analysis (USA) released a report that confirmed that children under the age of 12 were significantly more likely to die if an airbag was present than if it wasn't. For children 13 and above, the risk decreased. The fact remains that airbags can be deadly for babies, toddlers and young children. Airbags can propel unrestrained children into other objects in the car or suffocate those too young to know how to react. Despite this, parents insist on seating the children on their laps in the front seat or simply allow them to sit wherever they like - without encouraging use of the seatbelt. This behaviour increases the risk of injuries and even death in the event of an accident. Consider buying a booster chair for toddlers and young children while encouraging them to wear a seat-belt as they get older.
It is high time that we began to take motor-vehicle safety more seriously.
Balabhaskar and his family are not examples of carelessness but tragic victims of an unhappy fate. A musical prodigy who doted on his daughter, he leaves behind a great legacy and a lot of sorrow from those who knew and loved him.
Perhaps all this fuss about advice and safety tips hides a deeper insecurity - the reminder that we are all mortal and "this could be us one day." When lives as young and full of potential as little Tejaswini or even Balabhaskar himself are taken away, the sorrow and misery for those they leave behind is incalculable. Perhaps this is our only way of reassuring ourselves: "This will not happen again."