Overspeeding and reckless driving continue taking a toll on innocent lives. Road accidents have become common in the city and its suburbs. With absolutely no checks on the twin menace of rash driving and overspeeding, many innocent lives continue to be lost every other day in Chennai.
It was just another day of work for 45-year-old N. Mani, sole breadwinner of his family of five.
A resident of East Tambaram, he was riding his motorcycle on the road over bridge at Tambaram and was on his way towards Irumbuliyur, where he was working in a private company.
He was to deliver a baggage to the company and was to go home for lunch.
In a matter of moments, everything changed, especially for his family. An overspeeding lorry hit his motorcycle and Mani came under the wheels of the vehicle. He was crushed to death on the spot. The driver abandoned the vehicle and fled from the spot.
Such road accidents have become common in the city and its suburbs. With absolutely no checks on the twin menace of rash driving and overspeeding, many innocent lives like that of Mani continue to be lost every other day in Chennai.
According to statistics available with the Chennai City Traffic Police, of the more than 1,500 people killed in road accidents in the city and its suburbs that come under Ambattur, Madhavaram and St. Thomas Mount Police Districts, nearly 20 per cent of the victims – be it pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists – are killed in accidents involving lorries.
With absolutely no control over them, lorry drivers are a law unto themselves. There is a rule prohibiting the movement of lorries from 8 a.m. to noon and again from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Grand Southern Trunk Road from Tambaram and also on Velachery Main Road. The drivers, however, manage to sneak into these arterial roads through smaller roads and lanes. With the creation of Chennai Bypass, a good number of the heavy vehicles do not travel through the heart of the city. However, sand lorries and ‘taurus' trucks transporting gravel continue to travel on arterial roads owing to the requirement of material at construction sites. Drivers have scant respect for traffic rules, signals and do not follow lane discipline.
According to a traffic police sub-inspector, all the above factors combine together and result is the high rate of accidents involving lorries. Motorists, however, present a completely contrasting point of view. They say that the traffic policemen are not enforcing laws on the lorry drivers as seriously as they ought to. The traffic policemen are more interested in only checking two-wheelers and harassing them by asking them to produce all the relevant documents.
Many lorries are being operated by crew members who have very little knowledge of traffic rules and regard for fellow road users. Speed checks are being done by the police only on a few spots regularly, while the accident prone areas are being ignored.
Lorries indulge in overloading and quite often, drivers lose control of the vehicle due to it.
However, there is another argument and according to traffic policemen, lorry owners force drivers to operate the vehicles round-the-clock, sometimes days together. Under such circumstances, the drivers hardly get a full night's rest, catching only short naps whenever possible. Due to stress and overwork, drivers tend to lose total control of their vehicles in the early morning hours and late noon after lunch.