As roads get busy, Chennai traffic police personnel back on their toes

With the easing of restrictions and the resumption of activities, traffic in Tambaram, Chennai, looked like it did prior to the lockdown. File.   | Photo Credit: S.R. Raghunathan

The traffic police heaved a sigh of relief after accidents and rash driving dropped during the lockdown period between March and September.

Since the start of September, after public transport resumed, they are back on their toes to ensure safety on the roads even as full-fledged vehicular movement is yet to resume. On top of this, they also have an additional job on hand — creating awareness about COVID-19 among the motorists.

According to statistics provided by the traffic police, between March 24 and September 5, road accident deaths dropped by over 50% and the number of related injuries decreased by 63% compared to the corresponding period last year. However, fatalities and injuries between September and October 2020 are nearly the same compared to 2019.

“During the lockdown, there were no buses or autorickshaws and the vehicle population was less than half compared with normal days. The accidents then were mainly injuries caused by people falling from bikes or cycles, cases of speeding and accidents involving emergency vehicles. After the lockdown was lifted, traffic is slowly returning to normal,” said N. Kannan, Additional Commissioner of Police, Traffic.

“Traffic is yet to resume fully as many schools, colleges and IT offices are still closed. Even MTC buses are not fully operational. But there are many two-wheelers and cars on the road. Early last month, there was a lot of rash driving as people got used to empty roads, now even that is on the wane as traffic density is increasing,” a senior police officer said.

As roads get busy, Chennai traffic police personnel back on their toes

The police said they had identified close to 200 blackspots in the city based on the number of fatalities. “If many accidents happen in the same spot over many years, it will be our first priority spot. We are studying the reason, including faults in road design, and we will take steps to resolve the issue,” Mr. Kannan said.

Police officers said enforcement was being made stricter. “Till now people were driving without helmets. We have started stopping those without helmets, those speeding and those driving after drinking. In the city’s periphery, we have placed barricades and checkposts to deter speeding.”

‘Adopting’ roads

The police have also started “adopting” roads, to facilitate smooth flow of traffic. “We are adopting roads which are congested and removing encroachments.”

“This will ensure free flow of traffic as the stretch will become wider, and accidents will also be prevented,” said a senior police officer. Each police station will adopt one stretch for improvement.

“If there is a black spot on the stretch, then they will devote more attention,” the officer added.

Though the traffic police are cracking down on speeding and traffic offences, they are more focused on contactless enforcement to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Since CCTV cameras were introduced, we track the speeding vehicle’s registration number and send a challan to the owner’s house. We are also going to introduce more automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras in many arterial stretches soon. So we do not have to stop a motorist when he commits an offence,” a senior police officer said.

Many traffic policemen feel that they now have an additional role to play. “Apart from handling traffic violations and regulating traffic, we are also creating COVID-19 awareness at traffic signals. We check for people not wearing masks and advise them to wear it or provide them with one,” a traffic inspector on Poonamallee High Road said.

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Printable version | Nov 25, 2020 11:44:27 PM |

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