For the State, reducing road accidents by 30 per cent would be an added responsibility as 2011-2020 would be observed as World Road Safety Decade

A total revamp of road safety strategy, including disciplining motorists, has been mooted to bring down road accidents in the State by 30 per cent.

With 3,688 deaths, another 23,470 getting grievously injured, and 13,603 receiving minor injuries in 32,922 road accidents in the State in the first 11 months of 2012, the accident rate was 1.6 times higher than the county average, which is six times the world average.

For the State, reducing road accidents by 30 per cent would be an added responsibility as 2011-2020 would be observed as World Road Safety Decade as per the directives of the United Nations (UN). The UN aim was to reduce accidents on roads by 50 per cent.

The State needed a more effective and rational approach to achieve the end.

The new strategy should focus on major causative factors such as pedestrians, stray animals, and bicycles that hindered the traffic apart from the infrastructural deficiencies affecting the free movement of vehicles, Kerala Road Safety Authority (KRSA) Member and former Chairman of the Railway Board M.N. Prasad told The Hindu.

These causative factors went unnoticed and unrecorded in the State where motorists were held responsible for over 99 per cent of accidents.

“If these are duly taken into account, the driver’s liability would be reduced substantially,” Mr. Prasad said.

Social impact

The social impact of road accidents was another worrying aspect with the victims mostly being in the prime of their life. As much as 50 to 65 per cent of victims were in the 15 - 40 age group and 20 to 30 per cent in the 40 - 60 age group.

Drivers’ negligence was unlikely to be the main reason for the mounting number of accidents as drivers hailing from the State had a good safety record in other countries where the infrastructure was good and enforcement strict.

Bureaucratic apathy, lack of commitment, and poor enforcement was also costing the State dear as law-enforcing agencies, on safety drives, had been unable to deal with State transport buses, government vehicles, and private vehicles that violated speed limits, yellow lines, and stop lines, sources said.

The development of highways and urban roads should be more scientific. Priority should be accorded to conversion of highways into four-lane or two-lanes roads, completion of bypasses, earmarking of bus bays, and strengthening of shoulders, he said.

Pedestrians should be asked to follow the ‘keep right.’ Planned development of roads, off-street parking, and pedestrian facilities such as pavements, subways, zebra crossings, and kerb fencing were also needed, Mr. Prasad said.

Road safety education imparted in schools was inadequate and needed to be improved at the earliest, he added.

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