With two-lane roads paving the way for four-lane ones, unmarked and poorly-lit road dividers and medians are causing accidents, many of them fatal.
At least a dozen people get killed or are maimed for life each year in Kochi alone, after the two-wheelers and other vehicles ram into unscientifically built and ill-lit medians in the city. C. A. Vinayaram, who worked as tour operator, tourist guide and also oversaw the cargo-movement operations of a few firms said that he designed a device to replace the existing dividers. “It would not suffer damage even if a vehicle runs into it. Long-distance drivers are amongst the most vulnerable to accidents caused by ill-lit medians and dividers,” he said.
He said that the PWD and other agencies that construct/maintain roads must seek the help of agencies like National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (NATPAC) which are manned by professionals trained in road-safety measures. Expressing concern at the very high road-accident and fatality rate in Kerala, he said that drivers have to be educated on the proper use of signal lights, horn and safe driving/parking skills. They must clearly communicate their intention (to turn, stop etc.,) to fellow drivers and pedestrians. The Government must ensure the safety of road users by doing its part of obligations.
Government agencies must illuminate the ends of medians and footpaths and paint the kerb of the road. Drivers must be asked to dip their head lights when driving at night. Windscreens and wipers should be clean so that vehicles do not end up in accidents during the rainy season. Drivers, especially of goods carriers and other heavy vehicles must be educated on the different aspects of driving scientifically. They must be extra careful when negotiating curves and bends at speeds, since they tend to lose control of the vehicles. They must also be taught how to park safely on the road side and remain visible during night using parking lights/clear reflectors, Mr. Vinayaram said. There is also need to create awareness on the need to remain alert and awake while driving. Owners must maintain their vehicles in top condition and maintain a log book bearing details of service and repairs.
Overloading must be prevented at all cost, especially in two-wheelers, he added. Apart from sending a list of these suggestions to the Chief Minister and Transport Commissioner, he sent another set of recommendations to the Union Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee to restructure the Indian Railways and remodel coaches to ensure their optimal utility and passenger comfort.