Open the newspaper on any given day, and you can find at least three or four deaths due to road accidents, says S Ramasubramanian. “We do not know the basic rules in India. I started driving my father’s car when he was not in the house. I did not know any driving rules or precautions,” he says.
But rather than simply sit back and complain about it, Ramasubramanian decided that he had to take whatever steps were possible to help correct the situation. And so, this former finance manager from Bengaluru has quit his highly lucrative job to teach school and college students in Coimbatore the all-important lessons of road safety.
Ramasubramanian points out that in countries like Vietnam, the US and Australia, students are provided lessons on road safety and driving rules as part of their school curriculum. “We don’t have anything like that in India. That’s why I felt it was so important for school students to know about it.”
“80% of the deaths happen due to high speeds. Everyday about 400 people die due to road accidents in the country,” he adds.
Each month, Ramasubramanian visits about nine classes in three schools to deliver sessions on road safety. “We approach schools and colleges to provide about three sessions on road safety. It is for children from Class VII onwards. They are taught about general traffic rules, signs, different techniques to drive, how to cope up with an accident, first aid and many more things,” he said.
While Ramasubramanian has kicked off the project on his own initiative, he runs it under the banner of the NGO Drive Without Borders. Ramasubramanian founded Drive Without Borders in 2015, together with his friend Waseem Memon, to fight a case against Karnataka government over a clause in the Karnataka Motor Vehicles Act mandating payment of lifetime road tax within 30 days.
“After we won the case, we were thinking about what to do next and I decided to come to Coimbatore and educate people about road safety. My friend has been supporting me and the other members have also been helping with crowd funding,” says Ramasubramanian.
With help from members of the NGO and contributions from a few corporate companies, he says, most of the sessions in schools and colleges are conducted free of cost. “Some of them are sponsored by corporate companies. We also crowd source funds. We have about one lakh people who are part of the NGO, they help us in raising funds and also in approaching schools and colleges for providing classes,” he says.
Besides advocating road safety, Ramasubramanian also encourages people to commit to organ donation. “Road accidents might still continue to happen, but we also encourage people towards organ donation,” he says.
As a next step, Ramasubramanian is planning to build an app called Emergency Road Responder, which will crowdsource assistance for accident victims. “If a person meets with an accident in any place, he can place an alert on the app, and someone living nearby can immediately take him to the hospital,” he explains.
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