Peshawar: In the run up to August 14 celebrations, traffic accidents register a sharp rise in August as youth take to dangerous stunts on roads as part of Independence Day revelries, say emergency rescue authorities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

More than 128 people have been injured in 82 incidents in the first week of August this year in Peshawar. Most of these accidents, says Bilal Fiazi, spokesperson for Emergency Rescue Service 1122, happened due to racing and one-wheeling of motorbikes by youngsters.

“Every year, a large number of people are killed or injured in roads accidents in the month of August due to accidents directly or indirectly related to motorbikes,” said Faizi.

Independence Day comes with a vroom, literally. Speeding, one-wheeling, stunts and racing – the youth spirit bleeds on the road.

Mohammad Ali, 21, who had big plans to celebrate the Independence Day with his friends now lies on bed with a fractured leg. In preparation for the day, he and his friends had been one-wheeling bikes on the roads for days before he met an accident.

According to Shafiq Khan, father of a teenager who was injured in a one-wheeling accident this year, peer pressure and the challenge to dare is the reason why youth is more susceptible to dangerous behavior.   

“Dangerous behavior becomes a rite of passage among youth social groups,” says Khan. “Mere amusement or erratic impulses compels youth to raise the bar on such behavior.”

For the last two years, says Bilal Faizi of Emergency Rescue Service, road casualties around Independence Day have registered a sharp rise because a large number of people participate in the celebrations due to the improved security situation in the country.

This year, he said, more than 60 per cent of overall road accidents in first week of August in Peshawar city happened due to one-wheeling and bike stunts.

For the last few weeks, as the dangerous trend of one-wheeling and racing on the roads translated into an uptick in road casualties, the city administration has been taking steps to check it.

“This year we will deal with youth with an iron hand because they put their lives and safety of people on roads in danger,” Senior Superintendent Traffic Police Sadiq Baloch told News Lens.

The police have formed 100 teams to fine youngsters given to dangerous stunts on the roads, says Baloch, or violating traffic rules and riding bikes without silencers causing noise pollution.

Baloch said those violating traffic rules would be fine up to PKR 5000. The police this year has brought into the ambit of law automobile workshops who would be fined if they are found guilty of removing silencers from cars and motorbikes.

Sajid Khan, spokesperson for the district administration in Peshawar, said that the local government had been taking action against those violating traffic rules this year in response to complaints received from the public.

Deputy Commissioner Riaz Mehsud’s office has issued instructions to the district administration, said Khan, banning one-wheeling and motorbikes without silencers from 10 to 17 August under section 144.

However, spokesperson for the City District Government Peshawar (CDGP) Feroz Shah said taking action against such violations in the city was not the job of district government.

He said that this year for the first time, CDGP was organizing a two-day event for youth as a part Independence Day celebrations. The event will have competitions for youth on decorating vehicles, houses and commercial buildings, with cash prizes for winners and runners-up in each category.

Meanwhile, Masood Shah, a young student, is looking forward to participating in Independence Day celebrations by riding his motorbike without a silencer and one-wheeling with friends.

“We have no other way to celebrate this big day and express our happiness but ride bikes through the city,” said Shah.

When told about the hazards of one-wheeling, Shah said the government should arrange events engaging youth in healthy activities on such occasions.

“Such events would help channelize their energies towards constructive pursuits,” he said.

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