Post COVID-19, roads in Kozhikode city have apparently turned into a theatre of death with nearly four fatalities occurring in accidents on a weekly basis.
Road rage on arterial stretches in the city claimed as many as 193 lives in 2022. Data provided by the District Crime Records Bureau showed that 2,054 road accidents took place the previous year. That is 5.62 cases a day. Incidentally, about 70% of the accidents were caused by two-wheelers. The figure stood at 1,562. They also contributed to over 50% of the road accident deaths as well.
Speeding, rash, reckless and negligent driving, violation of one-way rule, failing to slow down at intersections, hazardous overtaking, driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs and disobeying lawful directions have been attributed to the rise in number of road accidents. Repeated traffic offenders were let off with meagre fines, sources say.
“The new generation has poor awareness of road discipline. They are greatly influenced by motorbike advertisements displaying speed and stunts. The engine power of vehicles has gone up in the recent years, but we do not have the required infrastructure to support such power,” A.J. Johnson, Assistant Commissioner of Police (South), Traffic, Kozhikode city, said. Data show that road accidents have doubled in 2022 compared to 2020 (1,003) and are more than three times compared to 2021 (607). The accident death rate was 91 and 75 and the injury rate was 1,008 and 844 in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
He does not rule out the role of drugs in causing road accidents. “It is the reign of synthetic drugs now. Alcohol and cigarettes are nothing compared to these,” he said.
On the other hand, there is also an increase in the number of people who give importance to safety. More people have started using seat belts and helmets and vehicle manufacturers have also stepped up measures to improve safety.
Mr. Johnson said that the enforcement too has been stepped up. “We collected around ₹40 lakh as fine in the past one month alone. The culprits are not charged for petty cases on the spot. But their mistakes are certainly recorded and will affect them when they end up in some legalities, try to renew their licences or update their vehicles,” he said.