One Living Life: Safety is a cheap and effective Insurance Policy - A Reflective Paper

Friday 30 September 2016

Safety is a cheap and effective Insurance Policy - A Reflective Paper

As I drove the rented scooter from the slope towards the narrow bridge, the speed had increased without any acceleration. The next moment, before I could realize anything, I was thrown off mid-air and onto the side of the footpath. I could not see anything with my right eye and was unaware where my pillion rider was!

Thesis: Safety is a cheap and effective Insurance Policy. And, just like a friendship is better realized during your bad times, an Insurance Policy is never missed until you need it.

It had been over five years since our best college buddies gathered from different parts of the country for a memorable trip together. Corporate life had given us rare opportunities to meetup and after a lot of hurdles, six of us could manage a getaway to Goa, a well-known beachside destination in India. Little did we know that this was going to be the darkest trip for all of us. Rented two-wheelers are the most preferred travel option for tourists in Goa and what’s better than cruising along a beach road, riding across the sands and enjoying the true flavor of Goa. Most rented scooters come along with a helmet. But, in Goa it is not enforced strongly upon tourists, as the government wants to give them a certain amount of flexibility. I did prefer to wear a helmet but sometimes I did not use it, as it was pretty hot even in the month of February. The sun does warm and sweat you up at and wearing a helmet becomes too uncomfortable.

At the dawn of our second day we were returning from Anjuna Beach in North Goa. On your way from North Goa to Panaji, which is Goa’s Capital, there is a narrow bridge that connects you over the backwaters. I was with my pillion rider Neel, who was an over healthy guy. We fueled up our scooter at a petrol pump and were cruising at a good pace, while the other two Honda Activa in the group were trailing a few kilometers behind us. As the bridge approached, I did not have the slightest doubt about my maneuvering capabilities down a straight road that opens itself onto a narrow bridge. But, future had something else in store for us. Just at the start of the bridge, before I could realize anything, the handle bar was out of my grasp while I was thrown a few feet midair landing at the side of the footpath. For a moment, everything around me seemed to be pitch dark and black around. It took a few seconds for me to gather myself when I realized that I could not see anything with my right eye. It felt wet and warm. My specs had broken and a piece of the helmet visor seemed to be stuck just under my right eye. Unable, to judge the situation, I had to pull it out just to get some comfort from the pricking plastic under my eye. I could hear Neel scream, but could not see anything. Gradually, being able to look around with my left eye, I saw him lying in the middle of the road. The sun was not going to rise any soon and being a State Highway where the incident had occurred, vehicles were passing by at high speeds. I knew that I had to get him to the side of the road but then I realized that I could barely move myself as well. I pulled out my phone and called up my friends who were trailing behind us. It was the darkest moment of my life that was passing by. The ambulance turned up and the police came along to investigate if it was a case of hit and run.

I got 14 stitches that morning when the doctors revealed that my right eye had a narrow escape and my lower eyelid was split into two which had to be healed with stitches. My pillion rider was in a graver situation with his femur bone broken. This incident happened 3 years back and even today, I look back and try to analyze what went wrong. A reflection of my past corrects my path every single day. Back then, I came to know some startling facts on my visit to the Police station. The Honda Activa was almost smashed and the helmet I was wearing had cracked due to the impact. The cops investigating my case let me know that I was saved by the helmet on that day. When my scooter hit a small rock below, both me and my pillion rider were thrown off mid-air and landed more than 15 feet away from the point of impact. I had my head smashed at the side of the footpath and the impact was so intense that the helmet broke apart. I was indeed lucky to have the helmet on me that morning else it would have been my skull. A few more points added up as to why the impact was so intense. The rented scooters in Goa can speed up to a maximum of 60-70 kmph which is not enough for such a severe accident. We were two heavy guys along with the scooter and summed up a good mass. Although, our acceleration was not much, the road ending at the bridge had more than 15 degree angle of slope. As we were coming down the slope, the momentum we gained was considerably high enough for a strong collision, without the aid of an engine. Adding to this, it was dark around and noticing a small rock at the side of the road was a bit tricky. In the end, Honda Activa having a low ground clearance had coupled up to create a bad road accident that impacted us severely.

Summing up the incident together, I do realize that the helmet was the best insurance policy that day saving my life, while darkness, the downhill slope and a certain margin of error that I was prone to had caused this mishap. Having proper riding gear is an inevitable necessity irrespective of whichever road in the world you are driving or riding on. Gauging the light, road and surrounding environment with attention will keep you safer and choosing a vehicle or motorcycle with better ergonomics will always be beneficial. While, I can never be sorry enough for the pain and suffering I caused to my friend and pillion rider on that day, I have also made sure that I learnt a few lessons which will remain with me throughout. Such mistakes can prove to be too costly and repentance won’t help after such things have happened. Its better to be safe than sorry.

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