The bloodbath on the roads of Andhra Pradesh continues with the latest victim being Telugu Desam leader and former Union Minister K. Yerran Naidu who died on Friday.
Even as the State has the dubious distinction of being one among the States accounting for a high rate of road accidents and deaths, precious little is done to monitor traffic safety on National and State Highways and other arterial roads.
A small example is the absence of a full time chairman for the Andhra Pradesh Road Safety Authority, an apex body ostensibly responsible for enforcing traffic rules, providing infrastructure, men and material for patrolling the State and National Highways.
Figures show that most fatalities occur on State and National Highways measuring 8,000 km and 4,500 km respectively. There are not enough patrol vehicles to enforce safety measures like removing wrongly parked vehicles, preventing overspeeding or dedicated ambulances. Ideally, there should be one patrol vehicle for monitoring every 50 km of these high speed roads.
It was only recently that the government sanctioned 63 additional vehicles on the National Highways for intensified patrolling. About 1,600 accident prone spots have been identified for rectification.
Medical experts say that majority of deaths on the roads can be prevented if only the victims are rushed to designated hospitals within the ‘golden hour’ in dedicated ambulances plying on highways. The hospitals too should be manned and equipped to tackle emergency cases. In Mr. Yerran Naidu’s case, medical help could not be reached until 30-35 minutes and the ambulance which took him to the hospital did not have oxygen facility.
In response to a PIL filed in the High Court recently, the Road Safety Authority submitted that in 2012, the State recorded 27,914 accidents till August 2012 and 10,087 road deaths. This is lower than the figures of 29,976 accidents and 10,435 deaths in the corresponding period in 2011.
The State government claims that it has stepped up enforcement measures. Officials booked over 6.05 lakh cases of over-speeding, 56,160 cases of drunk driving, 54,547 cases of not using seat belts and 6.05 lakh cases of use of mobile phone while driving 6.05 lakh, all during 2011-12.