The State Traffic Planning Cell of the Tamil Nadu Police is planning to identify most accident-prone stretches in the State and bring in foreign collaboration to reduce the number of accidents.

The ambitious initiative will take off with the arrival of an Australian delegation for its first field visit in June or July before the 50-km stretch of the East Coast Road (ECR) is taken up as a pilot project.

Talking to The Hindu, S. Rajendran, Additional Director-General of Police, State Traffic Planning Cell, said the delegation would first have a field visit and have discussions with field-level officials, and then with the Transport Commissioner, the Home Secretary and the Highways Secretary. After finalising the modalities, it will meet the Chief Minister and launch the project.

The ECR, developed in 2001, was designed to handle 3,000 vehicles a day, but over the years because of the burgeoning growth of the city and its suburbs, on an average 13,000 vehicles during the day and 15,000-plus vehicles at weekends use this stretch, and vehicles clock 100-140 kmph.

The traffic on the road is growing because of its access to Puducherry, Mamallapuram and a number of resorts on either side.

The Road Accident Data Management System of the State police puts the average accident rate on roads at more than 67,000 in a year and the number of deaths at 16,000-17,000 a year.

Average accidents per day are 185, and lives lost are 44 per day. Fifteen accidents are reported every two hours, and the number of deaths on roads is two.

As for Chennai City, the ECR accounts for a sizeable share of accidents and fatalities. Hence, this road is being taken up for implementing the Victoria Road Safety Model. The State has already embarked on a project to widen the stretch at a cost of Rs. 272 crore, and the work, which has just begun, will be completed in two years, say officials.

The causes of accidents will be analysed, and Australia will bring in the engineering changes and install gadgets and equipment to bring down the accident rate through speed restriction and curbs on drunken driving, besides installing gadgets at accident-prone spots, all as a goodwill gesture. There will be no financial commitment on the part of the State. This will bring about a lot of change in the road condition, officials say.

Once the project is implemented, Australia will showcase the ECR as a model road for the other States, and Tamil Nadu will replicate the model on its other accident-prone stretches, he added.