Traffic barricades or death traps?

CHENNAI JAN. 25. An income tax employee lost his life last night after he dashed his two-wheeler into a steel barricade, used as a temporary median divider, on EVR Salai, Arumbakkam.

K. Parthasarathy, 44, fell victim to the increasing trend of putting up temporary barricades at night, with no warning signs, lights or even reflector tape.

The incident has sent shockwaves among motorists, who have to ride at night braving bad roads and rash heavy vehicle traffic.

A senior tax assistant in the department, Mr. Parthasarathy, was returning home to the IT quarters on Baraccah Road in Kellys. He is survived by his wife, Vijaya (38), daughter, Jeevan Rekha, studying IX Standard, and son, Manirajan, a VI Standard student.

The victim's family members and colleagues were sceptical about the enforcement patterns of the traffic police. "The case should not be treated as a mere road accident. Action should be taken against the police personnel responsible for installing the steel barricade without proper cautionary boards and for not being present at the spot. The crude devices and methods adopted by the traffic police to reduce accidents are both comical and tragic, because they often create more problems, and cause accidents", an IT employee and the victim's neighbour charged.

K. Muthusamy of Indian Hospital, who first treated Mr. Parthasarathy, said: `My staff noticed the accident and rushed him to the hospital. He was gasping for breath and bleeding heavily in the head. As he required immediate scan and surgical intervention, I arranged for him to be transferred directly to the Government General Hospital, which had the facility for treating him.'

Another hospital doctor wanted the police to ensure that government hospitals readily admitted accident victims transferred from private hospitals.

"The police assure us that we will face no problem if we provide immediate medical attention for accident victims but it is a different story at government hospitals where they insist on several formalities, ignoring the golden hour principle," the doctor said.

Even in Mr. Parthasarathy's case there were some problems in admission to the GH, it is learnt.

Meanwhile, the fatal accident drew sharp criticism from the local residents. "The victim apparently did not notice the steel barricade and dashed into it. There are no signboards alerting the motorists of the barricades which suddenly appear on the road. These steel barricades made a sudden appearance following a fatal accident some time ago. Now after the death of Mr. Parthasarathy, these barricades have again been removed", a local resident charged.

Desperate to curb the rising death toll on city roads over the years, the police have been using steel barricades as "calming" devices, deploying them in a `zig zag' fashion, normally found near checkposts.

Such an arrangement created a multiple collision of vehicles near the Pachaiyappa's College but senior traffic officials had assured that constables would man such points with torch lights to alert motorists. But this practice is invariably not followed, be it on Anna Salai or EVR Salai.

Such devices are viewed with disdain by heavy vehicles, especially container-carrying trucks.

The City Police collected Rs.7.5 crores as fine last year, but very little of it is channelised into modernising road safety devices.

Active safety devices, amber flashers and passive devices such as reflective boards, cones, cats eyes or even reflective tapes stuck to the metal barriers could make a difference.

There is also a growing demand that the police should charge personnel of civic agencies such as the Corporation and the Highways under Section 304 A, (causing death by a rash and negligent act) where the accident was caused due to their negligence.