Thursday, June 03, 2010

Death count on City roads reaches chilling heights

Death count on City roads reaches chilling heights
Ajith Athrady, New Delhi, June 2, DH News Service:

Motorists and pedestrians in Bangalore better beware next time you hit the road. Fatal road accidents have assumed ominous proportions in the City. More people die in the City in road mishaps than in any other major city in the country, except Delhi.

This alarming information is revealed in the report “Road Accidents in India-2008,” prepared by the Transport Research Wing of the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

Every tenth accident on the City roads was fatal and 865 persons died and over 6,100 people sustained injuries in road accidents during the reporting year. Statistically, there were 7,773 accidents in 2008 of which 838 were fatal.

The single largest killer vehicles in the country are the two-wheelers. Bangalore has the largest number of them among all cities in the country — 70 per cent of the 35 lakh vehicles registered in the City two years ago were two-wheelers. It is, therefore, not surprising that the deaths due to road accidents in the City during the reporting year were 12.7 per one lakh population, as against the significantly lower national average of 10.5.

While in the past, road accidents might have been attributed to negligent driving on the City’s narrow and congested roads, this might not be the case any more. Now, more accidents might be occurring on widened roads.

Although road-widening has helped improve the traffic flow, it has also led to over-speeding that increases the risks of accidents, a concerned DCP traffic (West) Panduranga H Rane had told Deccan Herald in Bangalore the other day.

Innocent victims

Often, innocent pedestrians pay with their life for the negligent driving of others.
The report surveyed 23 major cities in the country, including the metros. While Delhi was in the unenviable top position with 8,435 accidents that claimed 2,093 lives, Mumbai accounted for the highest number of road accidents (29,781 with the reported death of 622 persons. In Chennai, 629 lives were lost in 6,386 accidents during the year and in Kolkata, 421 people died in 2,374 accidents during the year. Though the report was for the year 2008, there is nothing to suggest the situation is any better now.

On the rise

Indeed, the road accidents as well as deaths due these accidents have been on the rise in the country with each passing year — 4.60 lakh accidents and 1.05 lakh deaths in 2006, 4.79 lakh accidents and 1.14 lakh deaths in 2007, and 4.84 lakh accidents and 1.19 lakh deaths in 2008.

The situation outside the City in Karnataka is not comforting either. Accidents and deaths owing to mishaps have been increasing every year in the state as a whole. In 2006, there were 43,411 accidents and 7,973 deaths; in 2007, there were 46,363 accidents and 8,777 deaths; and in 2008 there were 46,279 accidents and 8,814 deaths.

To address the grim situation, the Centre introduced the National Road Safety and Traffic Management Bill during the budget session. Among others, the Bill seeks to mobilise additional funds for spending on road safety measures.

The revenue, proposed to be raised, would be spent by the Central and state governments on a host of road safety measures — from educating the roadusers to ensuring better designed roads.

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