Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Are you turning city roads into killing fields?

Are you turning city roads into killing fields?

Despite the best efforts of traffic authorities, the number of accidents on city roads is rising every day. Soumya Menon and Santosh Kumar RB find out that the blame lies mainly with motorists themselves, who indulge in reckless driving and discard rules and
warning signs

Soumya Menon and Santosh Kumar RB

City roads are killing fields. Every day, the city roads get soaked in blood, with a minimum of five accident cases. But the city traffic police argue that accident rates have come down by 15 per cent compared to the last two years.
Maybe. Maybe not.
But there is no denying that our roads remain unsafe for pedestrians as well as motorists, during day and night.
So who is at fault? Can we prevent lives being crushed on roads?
Traffic experts say the fault lies with reckless drivers who do not follow rules, and ignore signboards. The city traffic police cannot agree more. MN Sreehari, traffic expert, says driver behaviour is the single biggest factor that leads to accidents.
"Studies had exposed aspects such as bad design and engineering of roads and absence of signboards. Those aspects have been sorted out. But studies on driver behaviour reveal a greater problem. Nearly 92 per cent of accidents that occur in the city are due to the fault of drivers as they lack discipline on roads. BBMP, BDA and traffic department have tried to improve the situation at accident-prone zones in the city with enough illumination, signboards, broader roads, footpaths, barricades, road medians and others. But, it is difficult to force a driver to follow rules. There seems to be no solution for bad driver behaviour," says Sreehari.
The only solution is the strict enforcement of rules, and hefty fines for violators. There should be cameras to catch offenders. "Situations such as attempts to overtake, jumping signals, taking wrong decisions at junctions, rash and negligent driving, travelling on the wrong side of the road lead to accidents," says Sreehari.
Sreehari says accident rates on highways go up in the wee hours of morning because of the absence of proper signboards and road markings. It's common for people to speed on highways. In city limits, speed is not the cause of accidents. "It is more of road rage and negligence of the driver," says Sreehari.
Praveen Sood, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic), says there are six accident zones in the city. These are the entry and exit points and contribute to 70 per cent of the accidents in the city. "The six roads are Devanahalli (Bellary Road), Old Madras Road (KR Puram), Hosur Road (Bangalore-Hyderabad, Tamil Nadu), Kanakpura Road, Mysore Road and Tumkur Road (Peenya). Here, the movement of pedestrians and heavy vehicles like lorries, private buses, KSRTC and other state buses is very heavy. Roads are wide and accident-prone," says Sood. Sood points out that these roads are undergoing development work and are at various stages of completion. That results in less than ideal driving condition and leads to accidents. "We have been trying to enforce speed limits on these roads for the same reason. At least 60 per cent of the overspeeding cases come from these six roads as people drive in a reckless manner," says Sood.
Panduranga H Rane, Deputy Commissioner of Police (West, Traffic), says there are no particular accident-prone junctions. "Accidents happen everywhere and need not be in one particular area. If there are junctions where more than two accidents occur in a span of few days, we take stringent measures and precautions to prevent accidents," he says.
He adds that precautions such as speed breakers, pedestrian crossings, signboards which highlights speed limits, one ways, U-turns, accident zone boards, go slow sign boards, pelican lights and illumination signs are in place.
"There are nine interceptors in the city which monitor speed, lane discipline, helmets, vehicles without registration numbers, drunken driving and other traffic violations. Currently, these interceptors are operating heavily on Bellary Road which has seen a rise in accidents since the Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) began to operate. Interceptors have enabled us to bring down accident rates on Bellary Road," says Rane. Interceptors have also been installed on ring roads, including inner and outer and peripheral ring road, state and national highways. Out of the nine, seven are operating, while two others will be installed in the next two months.
All these measures are fine, but dear motorist, without your conscious efforts, our roads will remain killing fields. So, heed the warning. Drive safely.


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