Safety measures have not been taken despite rise in accidents

The District Road Safety Committee (RSC) and the agencies in charge of roads are turning a blind eye to recurrent accidents caused by ill-lit road medians. A few days ago, a lorry driver was killed after the vehicle rammed an unmarked median at S.N. Junction, Tripunithura. The fatal accident could have been averted if RSC and civic agencies took preventive measures following a spree of less-severe accidents at the median.

“We give frequent feedback to the agency concerned and RSC on the need to augment safety measures in different parts of the city and its immediate suburbs,” said P.P. Shams, Assistant Commissioner of Police (City Traffic-East). “Some agencies act after much delay, while NHAI neglects safety concerns and our suggestions. They have done nothing despite repeated letters to ensure the upkeep of medians and pedestrian crossings on NH Bypass,” he said.

U-turns along NH 47 and NH Bypass are highly accident-prone because of the absence of sign boards and overgrowth of weeds atop medians. Most NH medians do not have proper reflectors either. A median on the southern side of Vyttila is an example. Most medians on Kochi Corporation-owned SA Road, PWD-owned MG Road and Banerjee Road too are accident prone.

While section-level engineers of PWD and civic agencies and the project director of NHAI are responsible for the upkeep of medians and other road infrastructure in their jurisdiction, the district-level RSC is duty-bound to coordinate and implement road safety measures.

Solutions aplenty

City-based road-safety volunteer C.J. Johnson spoke of how stakeholders concerned were turning a blind eye to safety hazards posed by medians. “Either edge of each median must be painted with fluorescent paints and must have proper reflectors over them so that they are clearly visible from a distance. Taking into account the possibility of accident even if all safety measures are in place, medians must be built using easily-breakable materials so that they absorb a part of the impact. Thus, damage to life and vehicles is minimal.”

Another option is to increase their height gradually to normal height, so that initial intensity of the crash is minimal and the driver will get a chance to apply brake, Mr. Johnson said. Overgrowth of shrubs and weeds at median edges hampered visibility at U-turns. “To prevent this, the median surface at edges must be cement-topped,” he said. He recollected how an ill-lit median claimed 20 lives in Kannur after an LPG-laden tanker lorry rammed it at night.

Actor Jagathy Sreekumar is yet to recover from serious injuries he sustained after his car hit an unscientific median near the Calicut University.

More In: Kochi