VISAKHAPATNAM: Eight schoolchildren were injured after the auto they were travelling in collided with a truck near Sangam Sarat Theatre Junction in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday. The students were on their way to school in Ram Nagar when the incident took place around 6:40 am. The driver was also injured in the accident. The auto, heading towards Ambedkar Statue Junction from Diamond Park Road, rammed into the truck, which was going towards the RTC Complex from the railway station.
DCP K Srinivas Rao said of the eight children, a 14-year-old girl sustained severe head injuries. Her health condition is reportedly critical. While three students, who sustained minor injuries, were treated and discharged from the hospital, the condition of four others and the auto driver is reportedly stable, he added.
Footage captured by a CCTV camera, installed at a nearby commercial establishment, showed that the accident occurred when the traffic was relatively low, making it clear that both the vehicles were going at a high speed. Stating that it was over-speeding of the auto driver that caused the accident, the DCP said police will determine, if there was any negligence on the part of the truck driver.
Speaking to TNIE, Visakhapatnam deputy transport commissioner GC Raja Ratnam also found fault with the auto driver.“The truck was plying on the main road, and the auto was headed to the main road. In such an instance, driver of the vehicle heading towards the main road should exercise caution and not drive fast. Furthermore, the auto was overcrowded with eight children, which is a clear violation of rules as only six children are allowed in an auto,” he explained.
Stressing the need for auto drivers to adhere to regulations, especially while ferrying children, Ratnam said they should also ensure that their vehicles possess valid documents, including permits, insurance, and fitness certificates. Urging everyone to comply with traffic rules, he said vehicles will be seized if any individual is found violating the restrictions.
“We have been conducting regular inspections and booking cases against school autos for violating rules. We will intensify these drives and also conduct awareness programmes for auto drivers,” he added.
Ratnam highlighted that many auto drivers have expressed concerns about parents sending their children late, leading to delay in reaching school.
He appealed to the parents to ensure that their children are ready for school ahead of time, so that the drivers don’t overspeed in a bid to reach school on time. In a similar incident in Madhurawada, seven schoolchildren escaped with injuries when their auto overturned. The accident occurred as the driver attempted to change direction to avoid a pig on the road. Fortunately, the driver and the children sustained minor injuries.
Good Samaritans come to rescue of children
Following the mishap on Wednesday, Siva, a passenger on a bus, promptly came to the rescue of the children and shifted them to the hospital. Ravi Venkata Rao, manager of a nearby hotel, took the injured children to the hospital in his car. Police urged the citizens to report traffic violations on WhatsApp at 9493336633.