Chennai registers nearly 62 per cent increase
Eight districts of the State, representing one-fourth of the total number of districts, account for 45 per cent of road accidents and fatalities, statistics show.
Going by the data of road accidents and persons killed in the State during 2010 and 2011 (up to October), those eight districts – Chennai, Coimbatore, Kancheepuram, Madurai, Salem, Tirupur, Vellore and Villupuram – witnessed 29,855 accidents in 2010 and 25,710 accidents in 2011 against the State's total number of accidents of 64,996 and 55,592. The persons killed in the accidents in those districts were 7088 and 5949 against the total figures of 15,409 and 13,119.
Sadly, five of those districts – Chennai, Vellore, Villupuram, Salem and Coimbatore – had retained their slots as those with the high rate of accidents since 2006, the year regarded in the Road Safety Policy as the base year.
According to a document prepared by the Transport Department for the State Road Safety Council meeting that took place a few days ago, Chennai, between 2006 and 2010, registered nearly a 62 per cent increase in the number of accidents; Salem 29 per cent; Vellore 25 per cent and Villupuram 11.7 per cent. Kancheepuram, despite being one of the districts with a high degree of accidents, had shown a decline in the rate between 2006 and 2010, the document stated.
N.S. Srinivasan, chairman of the Transport Advisory Forum, says Tamil Nadu should have a permanent body to analyse and research data concerning road accidents on the lines of what Kerala had done about 35 years ago. He recalls how he was instrumental in setting up the National Transportation Planning and Research Centre in Thiruvananthapuram which undertakes research and consultancy works in various fields such as traffic engineering, transportation planning, highway engineering and public transport system. This function can be better served by the State Highways Department's quality assurance and research wing, which could be given greater autonomy. It should be a multi-disciplinary organisation, drawing experts from different areas such as traffic engineering, law and police, says Dr. Srinivasan.
Road safety is not a priority subject for the police authorities, who tend to give more importance to crime. The traffic expert also emphasises that while analysing road accident data and taking remedial measures, the authorities should work out an accident risk index for each district in the State.
The index would have two components – the ratio between accidents and human population and another between accidents and the motor vehicle population. Both should be combined to arrive at the index. A similar index can be worked out for fatal accidents alone.