A majority of victims are pedestrians, motorcycle riders

Booking of traffic violation cases and road safety awareness programmes notwithstanding, fatal accidents within the city limits in 2011, have shot up compared to the previous year.

The number of fatalities has also gone up over the same period. In a city which has been witnessing meteoric rise in vehicle population, the number of fatal accidents registered during January to December 2011 was 174, and the casualties are 184. In 2010 (January to December) 157 accidents were reported in which 171 persons were killed.

Pedestrians and motorcycle riders account for a majority of road accidents victims in the city where the number of vehicles has crossed the five lakh mark.

Most number of fatal cases took place between 6 p.m. and midnight with the stretches from Cauvery bridge to Keelakondayampettai; TVS Tollgate to Head Post Office; Mannarpuram to Madurai new bypass road; SIT to Check Post 4; Zonal Point to Check Post 1; Head Post Office Signal to Railway Junction; Palpannai to SIT; Gandhi Market to Palpannai roundabout; and Tiruvanaikoil to Check Post–6 recording most number of accidents.

Police statistics reveals that 78 were killed on national highway, 35 on state highways, and 71 on other roads within the city limits. A host of factors, including dangerous driving, exceeding speed limit, misjudgement, disregarding stop sign, and drunken driving, have all led to road accidents. In many cases, accidents have occurred due to the fault of the drivers , say the police.

Periodic booking of cases against drunken driving, and realisation of fine amount from the violators doesn't appear to have deterred motorists from driving under the influence of alcohol if the number of cases booked is any indication.

Police sources say as many as 3,991 cases under the head ‘drunken driving' were booked last year and a whopping Rs. 39.91 lakh was collected as fine amount.

Licences of 126 persons were suspended last year for driving under the influence of alcohol, Transport department officials said.

As alcohol consumption suppresses brain activity, driving in an inebriated condition would lead to lack of concentration, visual and memory impairment, besides depressing judgment, says M.A.Aleem, Professor of Neurology, K.A.P.Viswanatham Government Medical College, Tiruchi.

Driving a vehicle with ‘hangover' is equally dangerous as the rider would be in a state of aggression and would lack concentration, Dr.Aleem adds.

Though speed limit of 30 kilometres per hour has been fixed within the city, many two-wheeler riders and drivers of private buses tend to violate this rule posing danger to law abiding road users. Significant rise in vehicle population and shrinking road space has made driving a real challenge in the city today, says M.Sekaran, a member of district road safety council.

Decisions taken at the periodic meetings of district road safety council, comprising officials from different government departments, if implemented in letter and spirit would definitely go a long way in checking accident rate within the city, says Mr.Sekaran. Effective enforcement would enable law enforcers in bringing down the accident rate, he adds.

At a recent meeting convened by the Commissioner of Police, officers were instructed to deal sternly with drunken driving cases and book those found driving vehicle under the influence of alcohol under appropriate sections for their rash and negligent act, say the sources.