The police and Motor Vehicles’ Department have not readied any action plan to rein in private buses and goods carriers that have been mowing down road users on a daily basis in the city and suburbs.
Even as law enforcers highlight the number of cases charged against law breakers, reckless driving has not abated. Hardly a few hours after a private bus claimed the life of a father and son on a two-wheeler at South Chellanam on Wednesday, buses were seen blaring illegal polyphonic horns and racing through the city’s roads. Rash driving is rampant even on Park Avenue Road, which lies in front of the City Police Commissioner’s office.
There is also no respite for road users as container lorries, water tankers and other goods carriers mow down at least one person in the district every day. The allegation is rife that police and MVD personnel are keen on verifying vehicle records, paying little attention to safety norms.
Lax enforcement by officials has left pedestrians and drivers of smaller vehicles with little choice but to be mute spectators.
To a question on the action that would be initiated against the absconding driver of the bus which killed a father and son on Wednesday, a traffic police officer said conventional methods of penalizing drivers did not serve as a deterrent.
“Full-fledged prosecution of the accused, leading to imprisonment is the only way out.”
On what can be done to ensure justice is meted out to the family of victims, the officer said the police had to appeal against the bail granted to the accused. However, often drivers who cause major accidents return to their job within weeks.
Speaking about how drivers escape imprisonment, former Ernakulam RTO, C.G. Michael said relatives of accident victims were most often content with the compensation that they received.
“There were instances of victims’ relatives speaking in favour of drivers who caused accidents. People who witness accidents too are unwilling to testify in court, possibly because proceedings go on for years. With accidents on the rise and Kerala topping the accident chart in the country, special courts are needed to ensure speedy trial and award stringent punishment.”
He called upon passengers to register protest if bus drivers engaged in rash driving. “They must remember that they were pedestrians till they boarded the bus.”
Mr. Michael expressed concern over a few operators entrusting their buses to criminal gangs, who do not care about the safety of road users.
He suggested stern punishment for offenders and introduction of two shifts for bus crew to bring down the number of accidents. “Most bus workers work for over 12 hours at a stretch and are stressed out.”
Though bus operators deny extending collection batta to crew members, its prevalence is evident from the rash driving and risk that drivers take to get more passengers per trip.
The MV Department has been citing inadequate manpower to rationalise bus timings and to keep a tab on unscrupulous bus crew. Despite the rise in accidents, the department is yet to evolve a system whereby it is mandatory for heavy vehicle drivers to attend training and counselling.