BENGALURU: While traffic congestion easily ranks as the city’s No. 1 bane, what goes unnoticed is the blessing in disguise it offers. With the average speed of vehicles reducing, accident rates in the city have dropped considerably.
Statistics from Bengaluru traffic police show that the number of accidents reported in the city have reduced from 7,561 in 2006 to 4,828 in 2015. The number of people killed in accidents in the city too has come down from 915 in 2006 to 740 in 2015. This is despite the increase in number of vehicles in the city -- from 28.41 lakh in 2006 to 63.81 lakh vehicles now.
Travel speed is as low as 10 kmph in most places in the city during peak hours and experts suggest that soon, walking to one’s destination would be faster than driving.
Traffic expert M N Srihari, who recently conducted a study on the average speed in several places in the city, said there is direct connection between rate of accidents and speed of vehicles. “Major accidents are unlikely to occur during peak hours as motorists are unable to drive above the speed limit”, he said.
Additional Commissioner of Police (traffic) R Hitendra admitted that reduction of speed due to traffic congestion has also reduced the number of accidents in the city. “The average speed of vehicles in the central business district is now between 10 and 15 kmph during peak hours. So motorists cannot driver faster because of the severe traffic congestion,” he said. He said major accidents are reported in the city are during early mornings and late nights when the number of vehicles on the roads are less.
Srihari said the average speed in the city roads is reducing by 5 per cent every year. “Our recent studies show that average speed on Vidhana Soudha-K R Circle stretch is 9 kmph, on Sankey Road, which has one-way traffic, it is 18 kmph, on Silk Board-Marathahalli stretch, it is 4.48 kmph, and on Outer Ring Road it is 29 kmph,” he said.
Last year, a study conducted by taxi aggregator Ola found that Bengaluru and Kolkata are cities where vehicles move the slowest, with average speeds being as low as 18 and 17 kmph, respectively compared to Delhi and Pune (both 23 kmph), Chennai (20 kmph), Mumbai (21 kmph) and Hyderabad (19 kmph).
The Ola study also said that Domlur and Silk Board junctions in Bengaluru are one of the most notorious traffic bottlenecks in the country. Non-peak hours though can be tricky and witness a greater number of accidents, courtesy absence of traffic cops and signals apart from inadequate street lights.
Srihari said there should be stringent action against violators and visible policing will reduce the number of accidents. “Most places neither have traffic signals nor traffic police during late nights and early mornings which is also a major reason for accidents”.
Many motorists complain that traffic congestion is doubled on TenderSURE roads including Cunningham road and Vittal Mallya Road.
“The BBMP has not widened a single road in the last 10 years but has reduced the width of several stretches for pavements. Accidents may be reducing in the city but the time spent on roads has increased over the past few years. The time spent on roads also force us to inhale polluted air and also leads to fuel wastage,” said K Manjunath, a motorist on St Mark’s Road.