With the motor vehicles entering the roads doubling every eight years, the number of motor vehicles being registered in the State is likely to exceed the number of households by 2015.
The number of motor vehicles registered in the State that was 1.75 lakh in 1980, 5.81 lakh in 1990, 19.1 lakh in 2000 and 48.80 lakh in 2009 had crossed 52 lakh in 2010.
“Kerala has about 60 lakh households and the growth in number of motor vehicles in the present manner will result in vehicles exceeding the number of households in the State by 2015,” according to Head, Traffic Safety Division, National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (Natpac), Mahesh Chand.
By 2015, every household will have a vehicle on an average. The growth in the number of vehicles in the State is slightly on the higher side compared to other States. The popularity of two-wheelers is also a matter of concern as well as a matter of convenience as pedestrian trips are getting curtailed.
Indirectly, the increase in the number of two-wheelers is a boost to road safety as it curtails accidents involving pedestrians.
The number of two-wheelers is also on the increase from 2,064 in 1960 to 29,29,243 in 2009. Dr. Chand says 60 per cent of the 48.80 lakh vehicles registered in the State during 2009 are two-wheelers. Changing driver profile with more women and youngsters using two-wheelers, inefficiency of the public transport system and the peculiar terrain of the state is making motorcycles popular.
The road length in the State is 1.74 lakh km and the road density about 1.5 km, which is higher than the national average. However, a significant portion of the road length is unreinforced. The width of the State highways and district roads is not adequate even to cater to the vehicles plying now on the roads.
Of the total road length, as much as 1.22 lakh km is under local bodies. Panchayat roads are mostly un-surfaced and need improvement in geometric conditions. About one per cent of the road length is in urban areas, which account for about 25 per cent of the road accidents.
Till March 2009, 60.80 lakh driving licences were issued in the State. Dr. Chand says every year more than four lakh new vehicles are being registered and more than three lakh driving licences issued. On an average, 1,000 driving licences are being issued.
The licensing procedure needs to be more scientific and more infrastructure should to be provided along with more personnel to conduct the tests.
“Road infrastructure needs to the improved to meet the challenge posed by the 60-lakh odd vehicles that will be plying in the State by 2015. Good roads with footpaths, streetlights, road signages, bus shelters and road markings and efficient traffic system all over the State is needed,” says Dr. Chand.
In addition, modern traffic signals and efficient enforcement system using cameras had to be introduced.