Adherence to traffic rules was imperative to prevent accidents, especially in the wake of the four-laning of the highways around the city, observed speakers at a traffic safety awareness programme here on Tuesday.

The meeting was organised jointly by the Indu Navayuga Infra Projects Limited., the concessionaire of the four-lane project on the Tiruchi-Padalur section, the National Highways Authority of India and the City police for the benefit of drivers of autorickshaws and other passenger transport vehicles.

Speaking on the occasion, R. Tamil Chandran, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime and Traffic), expressed concern over the accident rate in the city. Over-speeding was found to be common in the recently four-laned highway stretches and the police have identified 22 sites for installation of caution boards.

About 335 non-fatal and 59 fatal accidents had been reported in the city between January 1 and May 31 this year. Sixty-five persons had died in the fatal accidents. Of these, 20 persons were pedestrians and 19 were two-wheeler riders. Lorries, private buses and two-wheelers were involved in most accidents. Most of the accidents were caused by the failure of the drivers to adhere to traffic rules.

Emphasising the importance of wearing helmets, Mr. Tamil Chandran regretted that compliance to the helmet rule was very poor in Tiruchi. While about 50 per cent of the two-wheeler riders were using helmets in places such as Coimbatore and Chennai, in Tiruchi it was hardly 20 per cent.

The city police was planning to conduct traffic awareness campaigns in colleges and schools. Besides, special orientation programmes were being planned for drivers of vans, cars and other public transport vehicles with the help of the Regional Transport Office, he said.

I. Venkatesan, Project Director, Indu Navayuga Infra Projects, regretted that violation of rules, especially driving vehicles on the wrong side, jumping from one carriage way to other and parking of vehicles on service roads, was rampant in the four-lane highway stretches.

S. Munusamy, Regional Transport Officer, P. Meenakshi, Project Director, National Highways of India, A. Kannaiyan, Assistant Commissioner, Traffic, spoke.