Transport Commissioner Rishi Raj Singh has said that traffic rules should be implemented through awareness, and not by force.
He called for inculcating traffic rules in people, right from schools. Good driving habits could not be instilled through fear or by imposing fines, he said.
He was speaking after inaugurating the Road Safety Year observance being organised by the Kochi chapter of the Indian Medical Association and the Motor Vehicles Department on Thursday.
Mr. Singh, however, said traffic rules should be enforced as relentlessly as any other law. Kerala is the only State to have implemented a law on road safety.
The Centre has now asked other States to follow the Kerala model in this regard. However, roads in the State witness one death every two hours. This amounts to 13 deaths a day and 4,200 deaths a year. This is in addition to the 135 accidents a day that leave an equal number injured.
Mr. Singh said there was a misconception that State and national highways accounted for most number of accidents. Sixty per cent of accidents occurred on panchayat and municipal roads.
While vehicles were carefully driven on highways, reckless driving on busy panchayat and town roads claimed many lives. There is no basis to the assumption that most accidents take place during early morning and late night hours.
Most number of accidents takes place between 10 a.m. and 12 noon, and 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Though drunk driving accounted for most accidents, only 139 cases were registered last year. Registering a case against a drunken driven is a tiring job. Often the medical reports would be negative. Mr. Singh said protecting drunk drivers would result in their causing more accidents.
Roads in the State were not widened in keeping with the increasing density of vehicles and this made traffic quite complex. About 80 lakh vehicles crisscrossed the roads of the State.
While developed countries had vehicles at the rate of one per person, the number of accidents was less owing to good roads, he said.