Of 151 people killed in accidents in city last year, 62 were pedestrians

The streets of Kochi are far from being safe for pedestrians, going by the accident statistics of the last year. Of the 151 people who were killed in accidents in Kochi last year, 62 were pedestrians, according to the city police.

Despite several projects mooted to make the city more pedestrian-friendly, the mounting number of accidents indicate a dismal safety record. Police officials said while speeding vehicles were responsible for accidents in several cases, pedestrians too were often seen flouting norms and running between vehicles.

City deputy commissioner of police R. Nishanthini said pedestrians would have to exercise caution while crossing roads. “We can see people crossing even when the green signal is on for vehicles. When such things happen, the traffic police on duty have to control the pedestrians and cannot pay attention to the vehicles,” she said.

The system of using zebra crossings seems to be unheard of in the city. These are non-existent on most city roads, including parts of the National Highway. Even where they are present, vehicles do not stop for pedestrians at zebra crossings.

An example is the pedestrian crossing set up on the National Highway between Edappally and Palarivattom. Vehicles often pay no heed to the traffic light at the pedestrian crossing, installed specially to assist people to cross the NH from Edappally east to west. Pedestrians were seen signalling vehicles to stop before they could cross to the other side. Police officials said a patrol team regularly conducted checking at the spot, imposing fines on those who did not stop at the red light.

However, police officers cannot be everywhere at all times. “There is a serious shortage of manpower. We have the traffic police and the traffic wardens to assist traffic. But it is a difficult job and not many come forward to do it,” said Ms. Nishanthini.

For city residents, zig-zagging between vehicles is a part of commuting. “It is a nightmare to cross the road on the highway or at most other busy roads in the city. We have to be constantly wary of a speeding buses and two-wheelers,” said Vasantha, a city resident.

Ms. Nishanthini said awareness programmes were key to ensuring that people followed traffic rules that ensured the safety of pedestrians and prevented accidents. “We are targeting school children to instil a sense of traffic discipline in them,” she said.

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