Taking Pictures of Accident Victims: No Sense of Moral Wrongdoing?
In the city of Noida in Delhi NCR, police has decided to book people who are caught taking selfies with, or pictures or videos of road accident victims. The move comes after the city police observed an increase in such events, often leading to road blocks, further delaying aid from reaching the victims. Officials have also informed that the rule will be implemented under sections 122 and 177 of Motor Vehicles Act, starting from June 10. On the first glance, the move is indeed welcome. But the question is, how effective will it be?
How big is the problem?
In 2019 alone, the Noida police has recorded as many as 481 accidents till May. Causing about 220 fatalities and leaving 393 injured, this accounts for almost 4 accidents a day! And, averaging about 2 deaths per day in instances of road accidents. Clearly, the problem is far from being in control. According to officials, there have been increased instances of passers-by stopping to take pictures/record videos of the scene of accident, often causing a traffic halt. On several occasions, the police and emergency ambulance have difficulty reaching the victims in time, posing threat to their chances of survival.
The problem is not just limited to Noida, however. Throughout the country, several people lose their lives to road accidents every day. If the rule is proven to be effective, it can perhaps further be implemented across the country.
Are we losing our empathy?
In 2017, a disturbing video had surfaced on the internet, showing a woman being raped in broad daylight in south India. The video clearly showed pedestrians and vehicles moving past the scene of crime, ignoring what was happening, let alone helping the woman. An auto driver had shot the video, later handing it over to police. If we talk about the public’s reaction to the crime, there are two very disturbing things one can’t help but notice immediately.
a. The passers-by who did nothing to stop the crime, but simply looked at it and turned away.
b. Although the rapist might have been arrested thanks to the auto driver’s video, it is sad to know that the latter himself did not help the woman.
While this wasn’t a road accident case, it serves as a pretty apt example to see how apathetic humans have become. If a crime as inhumane as rape fails to get anything more than a few averted eyeballs, this really is a problem we need to address. In August 2018, a woman in the UK was killed in a fatal car crash. Not only did people click pictures of the accident, but they also shared them on social media platforms like Facebook. In some cases, people use such videos to earn money. So, while there is no denying that prohibiting people from recording the scene of crime will help the authorities, the actual problem is much bigger. The current rule dictates that whether or not you help an accident victim is up to you, but you cannot record the scene of accident. However, will this be enough in the long run?
Why do people stop and click these disturbing pictures? According to some psychologists, this is normative behaviour. We are living in a world and developing a culture where it is normal to record any such event. There is no sense of a moral wrongdoing, or even right doing, for that matter. And, perhaps that’s what the problem is.
There is no doubt that if implemented with the required sternness, the rule will bring forth a positive change. It will become easier for rescue teams to reach in time, and many lives might be saved. However, in our technology driven world, it is important for all of us to introspect on who we have become. Do we want to be emotionless, vile creatures who feel nothing but the desire to “record” a fellow human dying? Or do we want to be people who pick each other up? The choice is ours to make, and now is the time.