Four of the five policemen who died in harness in the last one year were on traffic duty

In the process of averting mishaps or intercepting escapee vehicles, more than a dozen traffic policemen lost their lives across Tamil Nadu since 2009.

In addition to hazards like air/noise pollution, the traffic police have become vulnerable to road accidents if the data posted on the official website of the State police is any indication.

According to police sources, most of the fatal accidents involving speeding vehicles occurred in semi-urban areas or highways. In cities, the number of police getting injured while managing traffic was more. Going by the data, four of the five policemen who died in harness in the last one year were those deployed on traffic duties.

“Though police engaged in traffic management are vulnerable to road accidents, wearing helmet is not a viable solution considering the weather conditions. We have advised them not to step on the road unless it is unavoidable. If any person violates the signal or tries to escape after committing an offence, it is always be possible to intercept the escapee vehicle at the next junction,” a police official said.

The tendency to speed through traffic junctions in the last second to avoid the red signal was one of the reasons why police got hit by vehicles.

“Instead of trying to stop the vehicle, the police can alert the next junction and convey the registration number to the control room…there is no need to chase or intercept on the spot. In case of an emergency, signals can even be switched off to pin down the suspect,” he said.

In Chennai, traffic police have been told to use reflective jackets, batons and barricades while conducting vehicle checks. At traffic junctions, vehicles mounted with flickering lights are stationed so that approaching motorists would know that police are present there and slow down. Every vehicle-check point has a back-up strength 200 metres on either side. Also, most of the junctions have Closed-Circuit Television Cameras that can capture traffic violations.

“Vehicle checks in the city are planned in such a manner that an escapee vehicle can be tracked down within minutes. Police are deployed strategically to cover all routes and patrol vehicles do the rounds based on instructions through wireless communication. There is no need for police to chase or physically intercept a speeding vehicle unless the situation warrants,” an official in the Chennai Traffic Police said.

More In: Tamil Nadu | National