Karnataka is among the top three Indian states that have a high incidence of road accidents.
Over 42,000 road accidents were recorded in the state last year, placing it third behind Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh, according to the Public Works Department (PWD). Latest data till March 2018 shows that the state has seen 10,944 accidents this year.
“The number of road accidents is gradually coming down due to some policy interventions,” PWD secretary K S Krishna Reddy said. He was speaking at a national workshop on Road Safety through Traffic Calming Measures, jointly organised by the state government and the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH) on Saturday.
According to Reddy, the PWD has mandated setting aside a portion of the project cost towards road safety.
“A separate fund is earmarked in the detailed project report (DPR) itself, which is about 2-3% of the project cost. It goes up to 5% for the Western Ghats section,” he said, adding that this applied to all projects taken up under the Karnataka State Highways Improvement Project, the Karnataka Road Development Corporation and the State Highway Development Project.
The Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety headed by former judge Justice K S Radhakrishnan has directed the state to create an annual calendar or protocol to identify and rectify accident black spots.
Although incidence of road accidents is high, the government has identified only 565 black spots across the state based on the MORTH definition. The PWD rectified 195 black spots in 2016 and 118 last year, Reddy said, adding that there were dedicated funds for fixing black spots.
“We are also insisting on appointment of road safety auditors while we select consultants to plan projects. This has been included in the terms of reference,” he said.
The government established a Road Safety Authority last year, which will work towards reducing road accidents by 25% and fatalities by 30% by 2020.
According to B N Puri, director (research) at the Asian Institute of Transport Development (AITD), the apex body on road safety, at least 17 people die in road accidents every day.
“White Paper interventions will not be enough. While Karnataka has initiated measures to curb accidents, more needs to be done,” he said. The AITD has a target of training 5,500 people in road safety.