Statistics suggest that road accidents are coming down; at least till September-end compared to the same period last year. Yet, the decline is marginal vis-à-vis the massive week-end drives against drink driving initiated by traffic police.
While 355 lives were lost in road accidents in Hyderabad alone last year till September-end, the figure reached 339 during the same period this year. That meant 16 lives were saved.
“There is nothing to rejoice. We should not forget that 339 persons were already killed, and it is no fewer figures,” says Phaninder Reddy, a commuter who lives at Lothkunta, Secunderabad. Even the 16 deaths figure, which is less than that of the previous year, amounts to a “mere 4.5 per cent reduction in deaths” though there was scope for traffic police to bring it down drastically, he observes.
Scores of traffic police teams turn up at select points on busy routes on the nights of Friday and Saturday, looking out for motorists driving in inebriated condition.
The drive, no doubt, is deterring people from getting behind the wheel after downing a few pegs and apparently, to some extent, has controlled the accident rate, accept many citizens. “But the miniscule reduction in road accident deaths indicates this is not enough, and that there are reasons other than drink driving killing motorists on which traffic police should focus,” asserts Gopi Krishna, a commuter from Marredpally.
Improper road laying, inadequate infrastructure and poor condition of roads are leading to road accidents. On some stretches, new electric poles are erected in the medians. “Call it negligence or irresponsibility, gaps sufficient enough for two-wheelers to pass through were left beside the poles. Bike riders cross through these gaps, leading to accidents,” says Mr. Krishna.
Naturally, they are not sure what factor is contributing to most road accident deaths. In fact, nearly 30 per cent of fatal road accident victims are pedestrians. Yet, strangely no special measure is taken to further minutely study this and suggest remedial measures.
Priorities of traffic police over regulation and enforcement change depending on individual preferences and choices of their chiefs. The implementation of helmet rule is a classic example. A few years ago, helmet rule was enforced vigorously, citing reasons of how head injures in accidents were killing people. Now, this is not high on the agenda of traffic police for some inexplicable reasons.