Monday, October 29, 2007

Death rides the roads of Bangalore

Death rides the roads of Bangalore
By Monica Jha, DH News Service, Bangalore:
There has been a sudden spurt in fatalities in vehicular mishaps on Bangalore City roads over the last fortnight: with three persons dying every other day during the period.

With death not discerning between motorists and pedestrians, it is with trepidation that one sets out in the City. Why have the City’s roads turned into virtual deathtraps?

Reckless driving, narrow roads, congested junctions and unprecedented volume of vehicular traffic are the contributing factors, according to K C Ramamurthy, Additional Commissioner, Bangalore City Traffic Police.

The City can handle only seven lakh vehicles, but more than 33 lakh vehicles are plying on its roads. One lakh new vehicles hit the road every year: an astounding 700 a day.

“Unlike in Mumbai, only 45.7 per cent of Bangaloreans depend on public modes of transport. About 32 per cent use two-wheelers and 7.2 per cent cars, while the remaining rely on autorickshaws and other vehicles.
Dependency on personal modes of transport should be avoided to reduce accidents,” says M A Saleem, DIGP and Director (Security & Vigilance), KSRTC.

Bad road conditions also play a part in the accidents. Besides, Bangaloreans are virtually devoid of road sense with haphazard parking being a major mishap cause.

At the slightest excuse — be it a downpour, rallies or maintenance work — the thoroughfares are clogged with vehicles.

While the traffic woes are virtually multiplying by the day, there is no saviour in sight.

Policing is virtually non-existent with a 2,863-strong traffic police making an attempt of sorts to man the City’s roads: one traffic police constable controlling 2,500 vehicles is a mockery of regulation. The reason for undetected hit-and-run cases as well as every other road user cutting corners with impunity is not too far to see. According to police estimates, more than 60 per cent of the City’s motorists routinely violate traffic norms.

In 2006, about 915 deaths were reported in the City road mishaps. As many as 39 nine per cent of the victims were two-wheeler-borne and 23 per cent pedestrians.

A majority of them were in the age group of 20-29 and 80 per cent male, while over 60 per cent suffered head injuries. Alcohol was suspected to have a played a role in 10 per cent of the crashes, while 41 per cent of them involved buses, minibuses and trucks.

DCP (West Traffic) G A Bawa, referring to the BMTC decision to ply 1,000 more buses shortly, says once they are on roads, they will pose more problems and jack up mishap statistics. Things can only worsen given the poor infrastructure, he notes.

So what is the solution? “Just be careful while driving,” the traffic police say.

The police have other measures on their mind like cancelling licences of repeat offenders, construction of new roads and widening of narrow ones.


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