I must have been 7 or 8 years old when I first saw a road accident happen. It was in Gai Khurey, above Rinchending. My father used to work in charcoal production at the time and our camp was based not so far from the Phuntsholing-Thimphu highway. The sky was clear with plenty of sunshine and the view of the popular Seven Turnings (Sath Ghumti) and Sorcheng was spectacular from where I was standing. I was able to see at the time and I would often spend time watching different vehicles plying the highway especially during the night because the lights and their varying colors would make them look like angels on the road.
Being a driver comes with great responsibility. The one who is behind the wheel is responsible for the safety of so many people including the passengers in the car and pedestrians on the road. It is for this reason that driving is not something that should be taken lightly. It is a job that requires the perfect coordination of thought and action. The drivers must always be mindful of what they are doing while driving so that they won’t get distracted easily. People say driving is like meditating because it requires full concentration and devotion. Even the slightest distraction can lead to catastrophic disaster. It is popularly said that a driver should have four eyes: two at the back and two at the front. This means that he or she should be always vigilant and alert. One must never drive with divided attention. Knowing how to drive a car alone does not make you a real driver. There are many things one must keep in mind while driving to ensure that everybody is safe. The following are some key points that might save lives on the road.
On 18th July 1999, Tshering Dorji and his elder brother Pema Thinley both of whom were studying at the Muenselling Institute of Khaling were on their way back to the Institute from their summer vacation. Tshering Dorji was studying in class IV, whereas his elder brother Pema Thinley was studying in class II. Both of them were enrolled in Muenselling Institute as low vision students. On that morning, they had walked down from their village in Gomdar and waited at Narfung the whole day trying to flag down any Khaling-bound vehicle to hitch a ride to school. But they could not get catch hold of any car that day as the number of vehicles plying that highway during those days used to be very less. The sky started closing in as the evening twilight began to creep in. They had almost given up their hope to reach the Institute that day when a teacher of Khaling Lower Secondary School, Lopen Pem Tashi came on his scooter. He had come from Samdrup Jongkhar and he informed them that their Institute’s car was coming. After hearing this news, they stopped looking for other vehicles and decided to wait for the Institute’s car. To their delight, the car arrived at around 5 pm and they were happy to know that there were two empty seats as though they had booked them in advance. But as they got in, they didn’t realize that they were heading to one of the greatest ordeal of their life. About 12 kilometers into the journey, the car veered off the road near Melong Brag below Tshelengkhor and crashed into a steep cliff killing three out of five people including the driver. This is an inside story of two survivors of the crash, Tshering Dorji and Sir Shriman Gurung.