More proactive steps from NHAI demanded

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) must take action if firms entrusted with maintenance and toll collection do not ensure pothole-free and safe commuting along highway corridors, Executive Director of the Kerala Road Safety Authority (KRSA) T. Elangovan said here on Tuesday.

The firms are bound by their agreement with the NHAI to ensure fast and safe use of the corridor and, subsequently, the defect-liability period (the time span during which they will be held liable for any defective construction, resurfacing and other works they carried out), he said.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a day-long workshop organised by  the National Transportation Planning and Research Centre, Greater Cochin Development Authority, and the National Safety Council on ‘Accident-free Kochi – ensuring safe, inclusive mobility for a sustainable Kochi’.

Speaking at a technical session, Mr. Elangovan, who had done a study on a pedestrian-friendly transport system, said 33% of road accident victims in 2017 (from over 4,000 casualties) in Kerala were pedestrians. The situation was still alarming, although pedestrian fatalities had fallen to 22%.

“At least 80% of road-accident deaths can be averted if attention is given to ensure the safety of pedestrians and two-wheeler riders. For this, the State’s road and allied infra must become people centric, and not vehicle centric.”

Former Senior Town Planner of the GCDA, May Mathew said improving pedestrian infra would automatically make roads people friendly, leading to reduction in accidents. This would in turn encourage people to walk, lessening dependence on vehicles. That a total of 1,000 pedestrians were killed in road accidents in Kerala from June 2021 to June 2022 was alarming, she added.

Speaking on identification and rectification of crash-prone locations, Director of NATPAC Samson Mathew emphasised the need to improve road geometry by straightening curves, rectifying blind spots and other measures.

Making a presentation on the importance of road safety awareness and training, Abdul Manaf, Additional GM (Safety) of Cochin Shipyard, said awareness programmes were key to usher in a culture of preventing accidents. Road etiquette and road safety audits too were important.

Representatives of the EDRAAC and TRURA expressed concern at the plight of Kochi roads and the risk posed by cables.

Srinath Raghavan, Chief Manager of RBG Labs, IIT Madras, highlighted the relevance of crash-data collection and management in taking measures to prevent accidents. He also spoke of how installing dashcams could help collate data in case a vehicle met with an accident.

“Agencies that own roads are duty bound to take steps to prevent accidents, rather than wait for courts to direct them to repair potholes. That courts have to frequently remind them of their duty shows the gravity of the situation,” High Court Judge Devan Ramachandran said, giving his valedictory address at the worskshop.

“Learning to avoid potholes is not road safety. Government agencies must gain people’s confidence by ensuring safe roads and pedestrian infra, before imposing penalty on rule violations.”

The workshop was inaugurated by Mayor M. Anilkumar.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2022 8:45:24 pm |