Rash driving along refurbished roads, increase in drunk driving, use of mobile phones while driving had been identified as the main reason for fatalities

Using IT-based intelligent transport devices such as speed radars and cameras and enhancing the penalty amount for traffic-related offences have not helped reduce the number of road accident deaths in the State.

As the State observes the 24 Road Safety Week with the theme ‘Stay alive, don’t drink and drive’ from Tuesday, figures say 3,688 persons lost their lives till November this year in 32,922 road accidents. In 2011, as many as 35,216 accidents took place in the State injuring 40,709 and killing 4,145.

“Though the number of road accidents has started coming down, the increase in fatalities despite the steps taken by the police, Motor Vehicles Department, and the Road Safety Authority is turning out to be a matter of concern. Multiple deaths in a road accident is a worrying aspect and has to be addressed immediately in the State,” Joint Transport Commissioner Alex Paul said.

Speed radars and cameras installed in select locations and busy junctions in the State had been paying dividends. A motorist indulging in a signal violation would need to pay a fine of Rs.1,000.

“Motorists are extra cautious at these places and they slow down. Continuous checking of motor vehicles can curb mounting fatalities in the State,” B.G. Sreedevi, Director, National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (Natpac), said.

Rash driving along refurbished roads, increase in drunk driving, use of mobile phones while driving, refusal to use helmets and seat belts and over speeding had been identified as the main reason for fatalities.

“Only stern enforcement measures can reduce fatalities and ensure discipline,” Mr. Paul, who is also Secretary, Kerala Road Safety Authority, said. The increase in the number of vehicles registered every year was a concern for the short-staffed MVD. The number of vehicles registered had already crossed 70 lakh, way above the number of households in the State.

On an average, 11 persons got killed and 50 others grievously injured each day in road accidents across the State. Natpac had found that cyclists, pedestrians, and two-wheeler riders bore the brunt of road accidents. Forty per cent of those getting killed were from among these ‘vulnerable’ road users, sources said.

The State had been rated the third highest road-accident risk place in the country and 40 per cent of two-wheelers got involved in road accidents. Sixty per cent of the vehicles registered and 45 per cent of the road accidents taking place were in urban areas. Natpac, which was preparing the policy for the Transport Department, had said that 55 per cent of the people in the State would live in urban areas by 2025.