Yet another Road Safety Week, observed all over India has come to an end. With the theme of this year’s road safety week being ‘Life is Safe when Driving is Safe’ the Government too has been laying a lot of emphasis on the problems of unsafe driving practices, especially drunken driving and talking on the cell phone while driving as these resulted in a number of mishaps.

The creation of the Chennai Suburban Police Commissionerate has armed the Traffic Police (both Enforcement and Investigation) wings in the city suburbs with better facilities and an increase in manpower. Creation of more local units has helped them in identifying problem areas and take steps accordingly. The formation of the Short Term Traffic Improvement Committee, probably for the first time, has brought together all Government departments connected to road safety to seriously discuss and devise ways to bring down the rate of road accidents.

Speaking to Downtown, officers at the Chennai Suburban Traffic Police said that the committee in the suburbs saw officials and engineers from the Highways, Transport and Municipal Administration and Water Supply Departments, Tamil Nadu Electricity Board and Southern Railway engage in fruitful discussions on improving traffic conditions with the sole purpose of bringing down the alarmingly high level of road accidents.

G. Karthikeyan, Deputy Commissioner, Chennai Suburban Traffic Police, pointed out that initiatives were not taken all of a sudden and that a lot of careful planning and study of traffic flow was done before they announced new traffic arrangements and diversions. For instance, at the Porur junction, where traffic diversions were made recently, they studied the pattern of the movement of different vehicles and made the changes accordingly. “The new arrangement has drastically brought down the waiting time of vehicles at the intersection,” Mr. Karthikeyan added.

On Wednesday, Chennai Suburban Police Commissioner S.R.Jangid, took part in a rally on road safety at Kathipara intersection along with officials from other Government departments and volunteers involved in road safety. In Tambaram, dealers of motorcycles took part in a rally organised by the Transport Department. G.Sampath Kumar, Motor Vehicle Inspector, Tambaram, said that they had organised a series of events on each day of the Road Safety Week.

Apart from distributing pamphlets on road safety to motorists, they also conducted a free eye camp for applicants visiting their offices in Tambaram and Alandur. They had interacted with drivers of autorickshaws apart from organising awareness programmes in educational institutions.

However, a cross section of road users and members of civic groups said that awareness programmes were a routine process and not just restricted to the first week of January. They wanted the authorities to focus in the area of road safety. Lorries topped the list of fault vehicles involved in road accidents in the city suburbs, they pointed out and wondered what had been done to bring these rashly driven and over speeding vehicles under control. Two-wheeler riders, pedestrians and cyclists were the most vulnerable group and there was no tangible response from the Government agencies to improve or even create safe lanes for cyclists or usable pavements for pedestrians. Police sources said the Short Term Traffic Improvement Committee had taken into consideration, the problems of this vulnerable group and there would be visible improvement in the months to come.

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