Pedestrian accident deaths soared over 35% in 2022 in Kerala

Lack of safety measures and carelessness key contributing factors | Experts also point to unscientifically designed roads as a concern

Published: 03rd February 2023 07:52 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd February 2023 07:52 AM   |  A+A-

​​Pedestrian accident deaths

Image used for representational purpose

Express News Service

KOCHI: Last October, a 61-year-old man died after being hit by a speeding private bus at Thoppumpady in Kochi. In December, a morning walker was killed after a speeding car mowed him down near Pothencode in Thiruvananthapuram. This week, a 43-year-old woman was run over by a bus while trying to cross the road in Kochi’s Lissie Junction.

These are not isolated cases, but are representative of the jump in pedestrian accident deaths in the state. According to data from the state crime records bureau, 1,117 pedestrians were killed in 1,115 accidents last year. Fatality numbers were over 35% higher from 2021 when 825 pedestrians were killed.

While pedestrian carelessness is cited as one of the major causes of accidents, the lack of safety measures, such as zebra crossings and footpaths, are also contributing factors. Moreover, the increase in incidents comes at a time when the state government is pumping large sums into road-safety projects.

“Shopkeepers and vendors have taken over footpaths. The recently renovated sidewalks in Kochi seem to have been built for parking and for shopkeepers to display their wares. With no other option, pedestrians are pushed onto the road. This will eventually lead to accidents,” says N Prathapan, a Kochi-based activist.

Prathapan, whose petition led to a High Court order to remove encroachments, is also planning to file a contempt of court case against the police and Kochi corporation for failing to follow up on the ruling.

B J Antony, former Ernakulam RTO, said the rights of pedestrians are hardly taken into consideration while constructing or revamping roads.

“The Kerala Road Safety Authority (KRSA) and its district road safety council are almost dysfunctional. Though the government appointed the officials nearly a decade ago, no new appointments have been made since. They are still ‘old school’. New designs have to be formulated, and plans have to be implemented to make the roads pedestrian-friendly,” he said.  As per MVD statistics, each year, over seven lakh vehicles are added to the roads. “The government, however, is not ready to consider this aspect,” he said.

“Incidents of food poisoning and accidents spur discussions. However, when pedestrians are involved in accidents on a daily basis, authorities are unconcerned. No serious discussions take place. Road construction in the state is yet to give importance to the design aspect. Accidents will continue unabated if nothing changes,” said D Dhanuraj, chairman of the Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR), a think tank based in Kochi.

Meanwhile, T Elangovan, executive director of the KRSA, said the government is trying to reduce accidents involving pedestrians.

“When we looked at total accidental deaths in the state since 2017, nearly 32% of those involved were pedestrians. But the trend declined to 24% last year. Our plan is to bring this to 10%. Awareness campaigns are the only thing that we can do now. We have also started a safe campus programme to provide awareness to students. Road safety will soon be included in the school curriculum. We are also planning to start an awareness programme with the help of NSS and NCC volunteers of schools and colleges,” he added.


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