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OUT OF CONTROL: NOT JUST BAD ROADS BUT BREAKING RULES RESULT IN ACCIDENTS

Despite the claims of the traffic police that better management and strict action against traffic rule violators have helped in reducing fatal accidents, four to five persons die in an  average of 20 accidents every day in the Capital.

In many cases, investigators close the probe citing them as “hit-and-run” cases.

According to traffic police records, 202 people have been killed in road accidents till February 15 this year, while a total of 2,007 fatal accidents took place in 2011. 

Senior traffic police officials, who have been seeing a high number of fatal accidents and road rage cases, say discipline is the best way to reduce the number of accidents. Unless people care about the risk to other motorists, it will be hard to reduce the number of accidents.

“We have been working on a strategy for better traffic management for the last few years. We have taken strict action against drunk driving and violations by commercial vehicles,”  said Satyendra Garg, Joint Commissioner of Police (traffic). “Our efforts have brought down the number of fatal accidents in the last two years.”

The number of prosecutions in drunk driving cases has increased to 2,796 till mid-February this year, compared to  2,430 prosecutions during the same six-week period last year.

Cases of jumping traffic signals have crossed the one lakh mark in just first 45 days since January 1 this year. The figure for lane violation has also risen from 466 to 492 challans during the same period last year.

The traffic police say with a steady increase in the number of vehicles every year, accident-related deaths are bound to rise as well. With this factor in mind, trying to minimise accidents is a major challenge for the traffic police.

Faulty road design, which allows commuters to go on the wrong side, was blamed for most accidents in the city. Absence of yellow safety marks on arterial roads has also increased the risk for motorists. Yellow and white paint on a road is important as the coloured line alerts drivers at night. But several accident-prone roads do not have this warning system painted on them.

Lane marking also plays a vital role in helping motorists. It is done using retro-reflective paints on roads. Usually, yellow and white stripes are painted 3.5 metres apart in a line. Equally important are markings on pavements, which inform drivers about the width of the road.

However, the condition of road markings and zebra crossings are bad on roads that are looked after by municipal agencies, say traffic police officials.

“Civic agencies like Public Works Department, New Delhi Municipal Council and Municipal Corporation of Delhi are reluctant to re-paint faded road markings unless three years have passed since applying the first paint,” said a senior traffic official. “They argue that the durability of the paint is three years,’’ the officer said. It would save a lot of lives if the agencies listened, and re-painted the markings frequently, he added.

The traffic police have also identified 16 areas where traffic violations are high, and they have posted a high number of personnel at these areas.

According to traffic officials, proper surveillance of city roads will help prevent and solve hit-and-run cases. But since there is no plan to put all the city’s roads under camera surveillance, such cases may continue to happen.

More youths in accidents
In most fatal accident cases, the victims were youths and they drove recklessly. “The highest number of people killed in accidents was among the age group of between 21 and 35 years. At least fifty per cent of those who died were youths,” said a senior traffic police officer. The department has started a ‘road safety club’ and 47 schools have joined the initiative.

The traffic police also say that fatal accidents can be curbed if there was a stringent law to check minor offences.

“Enhancing penalties for minor offences in the Motor Vehicles Act will help reduce accidents. If violators pay an exorbitant fine for a minor violation, people will start following traffic rules,” said Naveen Kumar Matta, senior advocate.

According to him, Delhi’s lawmakers must make it mandatory to install speed regulator device in vehicles bought or imported into the Capital.

“DTC has made it compulsory to install speed regulators in its buses. If only this device is installed in every vehicle in the Capital, there will be fewer accidents,” said Matta. He said there is no use in importing high-speed vehicles such as Lamborghini and Ferrari when the roads are not made to support such advanced cars.

“Despite our best efforts, high-speed accidents such as the one involving a Lamborghini happened on August Kranti Marg recently. Such accidents happen only when rules are violated,” said a traffic official.

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