K.N. Murali Sankar

15 junctions in commissionerate identified as danger zones

VIJAYAWADA: The city and surrounding places witnesses at least three to four road accidents every day, with two persons getting killed every third day. Besides casualties, four more persons suffer from injuries daily.

The long list of reasons for accidents include rash and neglect driving, absence of precautionary measures like wearing of helmets/seatbelts, drunken driving, crossing the speed limit, negligence of other road users, bad engineering and improper maintenance of roads.

The city has 1,200 km of road network, including 360 km of roads with heavy vehicular traffic.

On an average, 230 fatal accidents – in which people lose their lives – and 991 non-fatal accidents – in which people escape with injuries – have been reported daily in the last five years.

The police identified 15 junctions in the limits of the City Police Commissionerate as danger zones, where it has become a daily routine for them to register accident cases.

While National Highway-9 runs for 66 km, NH-5 stretches for 36 km in the purview of the Commissionerate. Mulapadu turning, Jupudi junction, Guntupalli school, Nallakunta centre, Gollapudi milestone centre, school zone between Ibrahimpatnam and Kondapalli, Gannavaram bus stand, Gudavalli junction, Punadipadu, Ganguru, Telaprolu, Kanakadurgamma Vaaradhi, Machavaram down, Krishna Nagar and Skew bridge have been identified as vulnerable points. Most of these spots are located on the two National Highways.

As the local officials of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) plead they do not have any authority to take independent decisions even on minor issues like marking of roads, a good deal of time is getting wasted in the process of correspondence, say district authorities.

“We can’t generalise reasons for all accidents, but a study into the cases will surely help us identify the most common reasons for taking remedial steps accordingly,” says T. Prabhakara Babu, Assistant Commissioner of Police (Traffic).

Chilling facts

The report of a study conducted by the traffic police into the accidents reported from different places in the commissionerate last year reveals some chilling facts.

In all, 259 persons were killed and 1,415 injured in 1,334 accidents in 2006. Majority of these accidents occurred between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., and the number of incidents was more on the outskirts, that too on the National Highways where there was no policing.

Buses and trucks of four years to six years of age were involved in most of the accidents.

Drivers in the age group of 25-44 years committed more number of accidents, and most of them were paid drivers with regular licence.

The traffic police say that in the case of APSRTC buses, which mowed down 30 persons in the last eight months, the incentives given to drivers to save fuel is contributing to over-speeding.

“While private truckers make some money by selling this saved fuel, drivers of APSRTC buses win awards and good remarks in service records,” observes A. Joshi, Inspector (Traffic).

However, APSRTC Regional Manager M. Sitapathi feels that incentive to save fuel may not be a contributory factor to every accident caused by APSRTC buses. “We’re conducting classes to drive home the importance of road safety in the minds of our drivers,” he reveals.

Lack of proper lighting on roads, absence of indication boards at important points and speed breakers at merging points of bylanes into the highways, occupation of road and lack of awareness among rural folk of road rules too contribute to the increase in the number of accidents, Mr. Joshi points out.

The traffic wing of the City Police with only 50 per cent of the required staff strength struggle to perform its duties in the face of an ever increasing vehicular traffic, Mr. Prabhakara Babu says.

However, special drives conducted to crack down on violators of road rules have proved to be successful, while the newly opened Traffic Training and Development Cell (TTDC) will soon play a major role in educating people on issues pertaining to traffic.

“We have successfully controlled drunken driving during night times on the city outskirts with the help of breath analysers.

We have now prepared a traffic action plan, which will be implemented in a phased manner.

Once the plan is implemented fully, we can expect a significant drop in the number of accidents,” he says in an optimistic tone.