Want to prevent accidents? Follow the rules, say cops
CHENNAI: There is a popular joke about the restlessness of motorists and commuters in the city. Those who wait long hours in queues to get their movie or concert tickets or to watch a cricket match at Chepauk do not seem to have the patience to wait until the signal turns green at road junctions.
“It’s common at all traffic signals. The last five seconds somehow doesn’t seem to count,” chuckles R Selvaraj, traffic enforcement inspector, Flower Bazaar. Selvaraj and his team of officers were conducting checks on Sunday as the Chennai City Police had earlier announced they were striving to make the day accident free. A 10-point appeal with pointers such as ‘wear helmets, avoid drunk driving’ were also released by the police and published widely in the dailies and on social media.
But a few hours on the city roads would show that stricter enforcement especially for traffic violations was need of the hour. Hordes of motorists were caught driving without helmets at every traffic intersection. “Some had helmets on their arms while some covered their fuel tanks with the helmets. You don’t need a policeman to say that it’s absurd,” said a traffic constable on Anna Salai. Since morning, close to a hundred motorists were caught at the junction near Anna Arivalayam alone for not wearing helmets.
A few police stations distributed pamphlets, some tied banners on the road barricades and few chose a vocal way — addressing in loud speakers to ensure their ambitious project for the day, ‘accident free day’ remains a reality.
Why is it important to observe an accident-free day, especially in Chennai, which is notorious for being among the top five cities in the country with high accident rates each year? “The only solace is that the number of fatal accidents has reduced over the years in city due to our increased vigilance,” a senior traffic officer told City Express.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau data, in 2013 Chennai roads recorded a total of 1,341 fatalities, while it was 1,046 in 2014. The data from the Union Ministry of Road Transport say 886 people died in road accidents in Chennai in 2015.
“The city still has a long way to go in enforcing traffic discipline and that does not lie with enforcement officers alone for the public too has to cooperate in this endeavour,” rued top police officers. The traffic constable at Anna Salai had an analogy ready — You can only lead a horse to the water; you cannot make it drink. Yes, we agree!