Lack of road sense, inadequate traffic infrastructure to blame

Five lives were snuffed out in a week on the city roads, and the blame game is already on. While a majority of the blame has been slapped on the buses and drivers of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), which were involved in all these accidents, part of the blame has been put on the lack of traffic and road sense of the city’s drivers, both four and two-wheeler drivers.

City Police Commissioner T.J. Jose, who said the sudden spate of accidents could not be taken lightly, felt that reckless driving had a lot to do with most of the accidents. Speeding, however, could not be considered a major factor, with the busy city traffic not giving much room for speeding. Stating that the police was thinking of intensifying checks on drunken driving, Mr. Jose said plans were also afoot to join hands with the KSRTC to conduct training programmes on traffic awareness for its drivers, while private bus owners too would be approached to extend the training to their drivers as well.

As of now, with the city roads unequipped for large-scale experiments such as lane traffic systems, little else could be done immediately, he said, adding that the possibility of drivers being under stress to meet schedules was also being examined through analysis of the accident timings and schedules they should have met.

The role of private buses and their behaviour on the roads too was under study, Mr. Jose added.

Corrective training

KSRTC Managing Director K.G. Mohanlal, while admitting that the role of reckless driving on the part of RTC drivers could not be ruled out, said there was a larger need to inculcate traffic safety awareness, both in drivers and among the public as well. While the Corporation was already initiating punitive action against erring drivers involved in the recent accidents, plans were being chalked out to extend corrective training and awareness courses for the drivers.

The thoughts of the public are not too different. Parinayam Devakumar, general secretary of the Federation of Residents’ Associations Thiruvananthapuram (FRAT) said that several association meetings had recently been resonating with complaints and fears over traffic safety.

Residents’ concerns

“There is a growing sense of insecurity among the public, feedback of which we have been receiving in residents’ association meetings across the city. People feel that it is not safe to travel, and the reasons are not just reckless driving,” Mr. Devakumar said.

“Yes, there is the role of careless drivers, for which we have to look at the licensing system. Once they get a driving licence and get on the roads, they forget that the safety of those on the road too is part of their responsibility. There should be periodical in-service training courses on traffic sense and the duties and responsibilities of drivers. At the same time, the inadequacy of our roads cannot be forgotten. The city’s roads are inadequate for the growing population and the increasing number of vehicles,” he said.

“The police should also think of more traffic police personnel posted in busy spots and if there is a shortage of policemen, more traffic wardens should be incorporated into the force for this purpose,” he said.