KOCHI: Bringing the effectiveness of road safety measures in Ernakulam into question, the data with the Kerala Police shows that road accident deaths have risen in the district. As may as 412 persons lost their lives in road accidents in the district in 2021, compared to 328 deaths in 2020. The number of accidents and related deaths have risen across the state too.
According to the police data, the state saw 33,296 road accidents in 2021, claiming the lives of 3,429 persons. The corresponding figures for 2020 were 27,877 and 2,979, respectively. The lockdowns enforced during the past two years in the aftermath of the coronavirus escalation offered some respite from accidents.
In Ernakulam, combining Kochi City and Ernakulam Rural police limits, 4,866 accidents were reported in 2021 compared to 3,967 in 2020. As many as 396 accidents were fatal in 2021, up from 310 in the previous year. In the city, 1,781 accidents were reported in 2021 in comparison to 1,437 in 2020. The corresponding numbers under Ernakulam Rural limits stood at 3,085 and 2,530, respectively.
While 73 persons died in road accidents in Kochi, 141 such deaths were reported from the rest of Ernakulam in 2021. The previous year, the number of accident deaths were 101 and 227, respectively.
Ernakulam Road Transport Officer Shabeer P M said road safety is a collective effort. Following the Covid outbreak, the road safety campaigns were cancelled, he pointed out. Though enforcement activities have restarted, the two years with lockdowns have brought changes to the driving styles of people, the officer said.
“There should be participation from the part of the public with the police and the motor vehicles departments to curtail accidents and the resultant deaths. For example, social media is a major influencer. There are many videos that promote traffic rule violations. We are tracking these social media accounts promoting such violations. The action necessary will be initiated against the perpetrators,” Shabeer said. Pointing out that a majority of the accidents involve two-wheelers, the officer identified rash driving as a major reason for many of the accidents.
“The sad part is that, in a majority of the accidents, youngsters aged between 18 and 25 are the victims. There must be a system to lead these youngsters in the right direction, and thereby bringing down fatalities by at least 30 per cent in the state,” he said. Ernakulam Rural SP K Karthick said drink-driving has emerged as one of the main reasons for road accidents.
Regarding the rash driving by bus drivers, the Ernakulam RTO said his team would soon start identifying such drivers and initiate measures, including mandatory awareness classes. “We have observed that drink-driving is the reason behind a majority of the accidents reported in recent months. Once the health department clears it, we will restart the process to detect drink-driving,” he said. Infrastructure —like signal systems and cameras — also needs to be improved to curtail accidents, Karthick added.
6pm to 9pm most fatal
Most of the road accidents reported in Kerala in 2021 happened between 6pm and 9pm, the data with the police department shows. As many as 7,350 accidents took place during that window last year. The second highest number of accidents were reported between 9am and midnight -- 6,193. The three-hour window with the lowest number of accidents was from midnight to 3am, which saw only 673 accidents. In 2021, December was the month with the highest number of accidents -- 3,750. January witnessed 3,602 accidents. nother notable point is that smaller roads saw more accidents than state and national highways.