First the good news. There were 612 fewer deaths in 2013 compared to 2012, according to the latest road accident statistics released by the Tamil Nadu police.
Now the bad news. The State was nowhere close to achieving its ambitious target of reducing fatalities by 20 per cent within seven years. When the target was set with the base year of 2006, there were 11,009 deaths due to road accidents that year. The idea was to bring it down to 8,807 by 2013. Instead of going down, fatal accidents in 2013 actually rose to 15,563.
It was in 2007 that the State government had framed a road safety policy which set the seemingly impossible seven-year target to reduce accident fatalities and injuries by 20 per cent. However, road accident deaths actually went up by 41.3 per cent during that time span. Had the government’s target been met, about 6,700 lives could have been saved.
Since 2010, Tamil Nadu has recorded the highest number of road accidents in the country. However, senior police officers pointed out that accidents are rising because of the increase in vehicle population.
“As more people start using vehicles, accidents are also increasing. Across the State, several new highways have been built during this period and as a result of good roads, motorists tend to speed and it could lead to accidents,” said a senior police officer.
The officer may have a point as the State has been witnessing an increase in vehicle population in recent years. Between 2006 and 2013, it has gone up by 107 per cent, according to statistics of the State Transport Department.