The death of 17 children and three teachers in a road accident in Nawabshah raises a plethora of questions regarding road safety and the threat to commuters on a daily basis because of indifference on all sides. Pakistan has a ‘do it yourself’ approach to everything, and that, coupled with a general disregard for rules often leads to disasters that could have easily been avoided had all parties been even slightly more careful.

The students were on their way back from Nawabshah to their village nearby on a dirt path when their van collided head on with a truck. Speeding has been identified as a potential cause.

The fact that most vehicles in Pakistan would not pass a single safety test is not something that worries many too much. The world at large relies on airbags and seatbelts for protection against any untoward incident, but most Pakistani’s would not only scoff at the mention of seatbelts, but would instead have the gall to complain that it only restricts them. There is no real benefit to using technology if we do not realize and protect ourselves from the harms associated with it. Driving comes easy to most people and in this country that is all that most people are counting on when they take to the road. Vans and buses used for students are usually filled with more people than they can hold, and getting from point A to point B can be much more life threatening than it needs to be. Getting licenses is also not considered a serious issue by most people. Why should one’s driving skills be put to the test if that person is absolutely confident in their own ability?

The driver needs to feel the responsibility of the lives he or she has been entrusted with, for the sake of caution. Drivers all over the country should take note of this accident and remember that all it takes is a second for things to go horribly wrong. And then there’s no coming back. This attitude of apathy needs to be eliminated from our society. What does it really say about us, when we are not even concerned for the welfare of our children? Those that died were aged between 10 and 15. All of us see the plight of students when they are hanging on to public transports on their way to school. Children are the ones that need the most protection. And they are the ones that are in danger the most on roads. Let us not encourage or tolerate the kind of apathy that endangers lives on a daily basis.