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Mahadevan Krishnamurthi was working as a Shell service station retailer

Mahadevan Krishnamurthi was working as a Shell service station retailer

In 1996 Mahadevan Krishnamurthi was studying as a mechanical engineer in his hometown Chennai, India. One day, as he sat at a traffic signal, his motorbike was hit head on by a lorry and he suffered serious injuries.

““I had to have extensive knee surgery,” he says. “I felt like I was starting my life over.” Despite being told he would not be fit for work for several years, Mahadevan fought his way back to health. He became a Shell service station retailer and wanted to help prevent his customers from suffering the physical and mental agony he experienced.

“Traffic is heavy on our roads,” says Mahadevan. “But many drivers are poorly educated and laws are not always enforced.”

Spreading the word

Driving licence applicants in the Chennai regional transport office, India

Driving licence applicants in the Chennai regional transport office, India, write a personal road safety pledge

Mahadevan promoted some of the simple rules Shell uses to help its drivers stay safe. These include wearing a seat belt, respecting speed limits and not using a mobile phone while driving.

He also launched a new scheme at his regional government’s transport office. New drivers must complete “personal commitment cards” by inscribing a pledge, such as never to drive through a red traffic light. In his local community, he has given presentations in schools to help raise road safety awareness among hundreds of children.

His efforts have paid off. Rajamani Kandasamy, who works in a consulting firm in Bangalore, was not in the habit of wearing a seat belt. But 10 days after a road safety talk from Mahadevan, Rajamani told his family to put on their belts before they drove home from the outskirts of the city. Their car was hit by a speeding vehicle making a U-turn.

“In spite of the high impact none of us were injured,” says Rajamani. “I want to thank Mahadevan for saving our lives.”