Roads to disaster

Roads to disaster

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Roads to disaster

In the last decade alone, road accidents have claimed more than 8,500 lives. Since 2000, the City has recorded over 66,327 accidents.

Take to the road at your own risk. If someone tells you that before you get behind the wheel, take the advice seriously, because, out there on the City roads, 41 lakh vehicles of every kind are battling it out with a rambling mix of substandard roads, wanton indiscipline and unscientific infrastructure projects.  

Criss-crossing Bangalore’s severely challenged 11,000 km of roads and 44,000 intersections are a noisy medley of two-wheelers, cars, trucks, buses, SUVs and autorickshaws. This ought to be a ready recipe for accidents.

Despite Bangalore’s traffic norm enforcement record, the City remains way behind metros such as Mumbai in road safety. Add an unenviable record for road behaviour – since Bangalore lags even smaller cities in this aspect – and you have a reason to avoid taking that drive! 

Statistics are explicit enough on Bangalore’s scary road safety records. In the last decade alone, road accidents have claimed more than 8,500 lives and left 62,429 people injured. Since 2000, the City has recorded over 66,327 accidents. 

So, where lies the problem. “Negligent driving (about 75 per cent), pathetic infrastructure (about  10 per cent), condition of vehicles (about 8 per cent) and environmental factors like heavy rain and mist (about 7 per cent) have been major contributing factors in all road accidents,” points out M S Saleem, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic and Security).

Road users’ haphazard behaviour and violation of traffic rules have been the biggest challenge for the police to ensure safety on roads. Drunk-driving, overspeeding, shunning seat belts, helmets and using high-beam headlights are common. The police can only implement rules strictly as they have no control over ensuring proper infrastructure and environmental conditions, say law enforcers.

Fatal locations

In recent years, the number of dangerous, accident-prone spots have spiralled on many City roads. These unsafe spots are mainly on Murphy Road, Ring Road, Old Madras Road, GM Palya Main Road, Whitefield Main Road, Sarjapura Main Road, Hosur Main Road, Hoskote Kadugodi Main Road, BG Road, Mysore Road, Magadi Main Road, West of Chord Road, Tumkur Road, Hesaraghatta Road, Laggere Main Road, Bellary Road, Yelahanka, Kothanur and KR Road. Some of these roads are highly congested, while major projects are happening on a few other areas.

The accident scene in the heart of the City is different from the outlying areas. Although the number of fatalities is less inside the inner City limits, non-fatal accidents are rising. Poor driving skills of drivers lead to fatalities. Overspeeding due to the emergence of some access-controlled, tolled roads is also partly responsible. “When the outer ring road was opened in 2002, as many as 250 accidents took place mainly due to untrained, local drivers,” stresses Saleem.

Lately, there has been a shift in accident trends, particularly over the last one year. “The year 2011 recorded the least number of accidents during the last one decade and that’s an achievement,” says Saleem.

Helping achieve this was a series of innovative programmes designed to create awareness and to strictly implement the rules. A drive that began on January 15 to remove illegal road humps has reduced accidents. Many accidents took place in the past due to unscientific road humps. “There were as many as 1,684 illegal humps which caused non-fatal accidents at late nights and early mornings. The police and the BBMP staff have removed 1,488 illegal humps so far,” claims Saleem.

But many residents contest this saying the condition has worsened after the humps were removed. The process of removal itself was faulty, they point out. “The authorities have not properly asphalted the stretches. Many bike riders fall down as their vehicles skid while crossing these spots,” points out a resident.

Saleem says it is an issue the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike should look into. “The Palike should ensure that the condition of the road is better. The traffic police are in touch with them regarding the issue,” he says.

Better medical care

Lack of timely medical care has led to fatalities on roads, note traffic experts. The first few hours are very important to save the lives of victims. The condition of accident victims, especially of those sustaining multiple injuries, deteriorates by the time they are shifted to the trauma care centres inside the City. Such patients, in many cases, are often declared dead later.

Although good trauma care centres have come up on Tumkur Road, Mysore Road, KR Puram, Bellary Road, Hosur Road and Bannerghatta Road, the delay in rushing the accident victims on time remain a big challenge. The high density of vehicles and lack of dedicated ambulance lanes have not helped matters at all.

Interestingly, more women are injured in road accidents than men. Statistics show that nearly 54 per cent of the victims are women. Those in the 20-50 age group are in the highest-risk category, as they constitute about 68 per cent of victims. Those above 50 years and those below 18 years are relatively less affected by accidents.

Conviction rate too less

Though the police take pride in effective enforcement of norms and decreased number of accidents in the past year, they admit the conviction rate of the accused is at an abysmal 10 to 12 per cent. This implies that almost 90 per cent of rash and negligent drivers go scot-free and justice is not done to victims.

The police book cases under Section 304 A (causing death by negligence) of the IPC. “It is a bailable offence and not a custody case. Many a time, cases are dragged on for nearly three years for disposal. On many occasions, witnesses don’t turn up for court proceedings, or they turn hostile. Hence, the conviction rate is less,” reasons Saleem.

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