Accidents rise as roads crumble

Unauthorised median openings on highways proving deadly, say police

Published - June 24, 2022 01:09 pm IST - VISAKHAPATNAM

View of construction debris occupying a portion of the Rushikonda- Yendad road in Visakhapatnam on Thursday, April 07, 2022, which has become a major cause for bike skids leading to accidents. File

View of construction debris occupying a portion of the Rushikonda- Yendad road in Visakhapatnam on Thursday, April 07, 2022, which has become a major cause for bike skids leading to accidents. File | Photo Credit: K.R. DEEPAK

Road accidents have become a regular phenomenon in the districts of Visakhapatnam, Anakapalli and ASR.

Anakapalli district, which has a long stretch of NH-16 passing through it, sees around 65 accidents on an average every month, the highest among the three districts.

Police said that in the last five months, the district has recorded 349 accidents in which 175 people lost their lives and 340 suffered injuries. There are over 40 ‘black spots’ in the district where the majority of accidents have been taking place. Among them, Nakkapalli and Yelamanchali (Rural) police stations alone are home to 14 black spots. followed by Anakapalli (Rural) with five.

As per the police, the 70-km stretch of NH-16 passing through the district is a major safety concern for locals and a death trap for motorists. The primary causes behind the accidents are speeding, negligent driving, poor illumination and unauthorised and unregulated crossings across the highway, they said.

In the case of Nakkapalli police station limits, which covers 17 km of the total NH-16 in Anakapalli district, the entire stretch is dotted with villages on either side of the highway with people frequently crisscrossing the road throughout the day. There are around 20 unauthorised median openings, which are a major contributor to accidents. A few months ago, Nakkapalli police station Sub-Inspector D. Venkanna and his team had closed all the unauthorised median openings by placing iron railings. However, many of them were reopened by locals later. A similar situation prevails in Kasimkota, Payakaraopeta, S. Rayavaram, Anakapalli, Narsipatnam and other mandals.

Survey planned

Superintendent of Police S. Gowthami said that speeding is a major cause for accidents in Anakapalli. “The district police are conducting a survey by roping in various agencies. The teams will study the accident spots and come up with solutions to mitigate the number of accidents,” she said.

In Visakhapatnam district too, there is a long stretch of NH-16 passing through the city all the way from Lankelapalem to Tagarapuvalasa, and this stretch records the most number of accidents. A long-pending demand from citizens to divert heavy vehicles via the Anandapuram-Anakapalli Highway is yet to be heeded, as large trucks still continue to ply through the city, thereby increasing congestion on roads as well as putting other motorists at risk, especially at night.

Several stretches of the highway, such as Lankelapalem-Kurmannapalem, NAD Junction-Gajuwaka, and Yendada-Anandapuram have turned notorious due to the accidents that are being reported almost on a daily basis. Lack of proper road maintenance is also causing much inconvenience to motorists. “Having to swerve to avoid a pothole at a speed of even 60 kmph is very dangerous and can lead to a fatal accident. At least the highway passing through the city should be in perfect condition throughout the year,” said a motorist.

Recently, a road safety meeting was organised under the chairmanship of Collector A. Mallikarjuna. At the meeting, officials from various departments complained about the poor condition of roads including potholes. Mr. Mallikarjuna instructed the GVMC to repair the potholes on an immediate basis.

A senior police official added that due to bad roads, the frequency of non-fatal road accidents has increased by 10%.

Ghat roads turn dangerous

Rash, negligent and overloaded driving by jeep drivers along the ghat roads in the Agency contribute to most of the fatal accidents in ASR district. Due to lack of proper transportation, tribals are forced to opt for jeeps to reach their destination. The jeeps are usually overloaded way beyond their capacity, resulting in an unsafe journey on the narrow, twisty ghat roads. Accidents, therefore, result in disastrous consequences.

A number of accidents involving two-wheelers are also reported from the Agency area, with police blaming speeding and negligent driving as the major factors. Motorcyclists ride at high speeds and often fail to negotiate a curve properly, resulting in a fatal crash, the police say.

Since 2020, the district, which was earlier part of Visakhapatnam district, had reported over 180 fatal accidents, which include 79 in this year alone. Araku and Paderu mandals have seen the majority of road accidents. Locals say that some stretches between S. Kota and Araku need immediate repairs as the road condition has gone from bad to worse.

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