The concept of safety needs to be inculcated in the culture of Malayalis, without which the society will head for disaster, said State Police chief Jacob Punnoose.

He was delivering a keynote address at SAFE 2012, a national seminar on safety, security and occupational hazards, organised by the division of Safety and Fire Engineering, School of Engineering, Cochin University of Science and Technology, and 3S Systems here on Friday.

Citing figures of accidents, Mr. Punnoose said that Malayali society fared poorly in basic road culture. Out of 700 persons killed in road accidents in January and February this year, 250 were pedestrians and 310 were two-wheeler riders. Worse, nearly 50 per cent of the pedestrians killed on the road were aged above 60 years, reflecting the lack of civilised behaviour of our society, he said.

The State, which has a vehicle population of nearly seven million, registers 4,150 accident deaths in comparison to 3,500 accidents in the Great Britain that has 40 million vehicles which are superior in quality and ply on better roads.

The State Police braved public displeasure and media criticism to take a stern stand against traffic violation and could manage to bring down the accident rate considerably. At present, Kerala is the only State where accident rate has come down in the recent period.

But there is still much to be done. The State, as it does in accident rates, tops the list in suicide rate as well. This reflects the escapist mentality of society and that needs to change, Mr. Punnoose said.

Inaugurating the seminar, Ramachandran Thekkedath, Vice-Chancellor of Cusat, said that personal, occupational and societal safety measures need to be taken at individual level and organisations can only support these initiatives.

V.K. Anil, director, Technical, FACT, Udyogmandal, presided. A. Ramachandran, registrar, Cusat; V.J. Francis Xavier, chairman, State chapter of National Safety Council; Muralee Thummarkudy, chief, Disaster Risk Reduction, UNEP, Geneva; M.N. Vinod Kumar, professor, Safety and Fire Engineering, Cusat; and K. Surendran, CEO, 3S Systems, spoke.

Technical sessions on road safety, industrial safety and personal safety followed the inaugural session. Sessions on communicating safety, safety education and investing safety will be held on Saturday.

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