KOCHI:“I lost a precious year of my life. Luckily, I managed to escape with just a leg fracture,” engineering student Suhail’s voice broke off as he recollected the harrowing experience when a speeding bus rammed into his bike at Tripunithura.
Like Suhail, it is usually two-wheeler riders and pedestrians who are often at the receiving end of these reckless rides. Despite claims of traffic regulations and law enforcement, accidents caused by private buses continue unabated, proves the statistics.
According to traffic police officers, most accidents take place during peak hours, a time when bus drivers are in a hurry to reach the destination. They pay little heed to traffic rules then.
“Despite patrolling at major junctions, we have our limitations. Once the green signal lights up, buses are in a mad rush. In the process, they mow down other vehicles, including two-wheelers,” said an official with the Kochi City Traffic Police on conditions of anonymity.
Despite awareness classes imparted by the MVD, it is the carelessness on the part of drivers in following the traffic rules that cause the majority of accidents.“Around 75% of accidents involve buses and two-wheelers and most of them are caused by negligent driving. Either the bus rammed from the rear while overtaking or they knocked the two-wheeler down while changing lanes. There are also instances wherein a dozing driver caused a collision,” the officer added.As for pedestrians, most of them were hit when buses encroached the footpaths. “To stop drivers from using footpaths, the authorities should ensure proper installation of railings,” says an East Kochi City Traffic police officer.
The National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (NATPAC) identified 75 black spots in the city with a history of three major accidents a year.“We have submitted the report long back to the Kerala Road Safety Authority (KRSA). They will hand it over to the department concerned. Installation of a sufficient number of reflectors and cameras with constant patrolling can curb the practice to an extent,” says B G Sreedevi, chief scientist, NATPAC.An assessment by KRSA had spotted 33 accident-prone stretches in the district. Despite regular patrolling and automatic signalling, accidents continue to happen.
To curb such incidents, authorities are on a mission to pep up surveillance. The existing ones are barely functional. “At present, the cameras installed at major junctions are not enough to capture traffic violations. Smart City Mission has a plan to install new high-end cameras. We have already completed the discussions with officials and identified the areas. Once it is executed, we will be able to nab such offenders,” M P Dinesh IPS, District Police Chief, Ernakulam.