AHMEDABAD: The city traffic police have braced themselves up to reduce road fatalities. The men in white have compiled data from the city police to understand the anatomy of the accident. As per the data compiled earlier this month, police have got all the details of 77 fatal accidents that got registered with police stations between January 1 and July 15.
After mapping the areas with high accident frequency, police officials will conduct a study along with civic authorities to ascertain the issue, be it of man-deployment or changing the road engineering.
As per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report ‘Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India’ for 2012, the city had reported the highest jump in fatal accidents among Gujarat cities. Compared to 227 deaths reported in 2011, last year the city had witnessed 330 fatal accidents, registering jump of more than 45 %. In the state, a total of 7,855 persons were reported dead in road accidents.
Talking about the initiative, Dinesh Parmar, deputy commissioner of police (traffic), told TOI that the motive is to reduce fatalities on roads. “We have encompassed factors such as time of day/night, stretch of road, vehicles involved and why the accident took place. At the moment, we are identifying the stretches with corresponding traffic zone and checking the history of accidents. Where we find the pattern such as a dangerous curve or constant over-speeding, we would take action such as changing the road engineering like installing speed breakers or providing a traffic point,” he said.
As per the study, one third of the accidents have taken place in eastern city parts where Odhav leads the chart with 13 accidents followed by Vatva that reported 11 fatal accidents. In western parts of the city, Vastrapur has reported five fatal accidents followed by Naranpura with four.
Amit Khatri, a city-based road safety trainer, said that one way of looking at accidents is identifying the cause and its prevention. “Causes like wrong side driving, rash or speedy driving, overtaking from left side are punishable by law. If we can crack down on such drivers, it would surely send signal to others to drive carefully. Other issues that needs to be addressed to reduce fatal accidents is the attitude of citizens towards driving and studying the road and local conditions. Bigger roads without calming devices such as speed breakers will surely encourage speeding that causes most of the fatalities,” he said.
Anatomy of an accident
According to road safety experts, there are four major factors for road accidents that turn fatal. If these issues are addressed properly, a number of lives can be saved. These factors are – driver preparedness/attitude, road condition, vehicle condition and weather condition.
Driver Preparedness/ attitude
Issues such as overspeeding, drunken driving, jumping of traffic signs and signals, avoidance of safety measures such as seat belts and helmets, wrong overtaking and so on come under this head where human folly causes vehicular accidents. The onus to prevent accidents lies with both the police and public by stringent implementation of rules and adhering to it. The RTO has tried to address it by making computer- written test and driving test compulsory, whereas the police have tried to conduct regular drives to check on vehicle drivers for helmets and seat belts.
The worn and torn roads cause even better vehicles to lose control and cause accidents especially if the vehicle is in speed. While many of the city roads are in bad shape after the monsoon, city traffic police have coordinated with the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) to identify dangerous stretches and divert it till repairs are on. Sometimes road engineering also plays a major part where a sharp turn or blind spot where the vehicle rider cannot see the vehicle approaching from diagonal direction can cause accidents.
The safety experts advice the vehicle drivers to keep a regular check on the vehicle – whether the engine is making noise, whether the tyre pressure is as per road condition, whether the indicators and horn function properly, whether the brakes and clutch work properly. Many a time a failed brake has caused drivers lose control due to which innocent bystanders get killed or injured. In a move to prevent accidents on highways, the state RTO has ordered vehicles to apply reflective tapes in front, back and both sides that can be seen from more than 500 metres to avoid head-on collision.
A major issue related to accidents is weather conditions. In road safety jargon, weather is defined as local conditions including availability of artificial light, type of road, visibility and traffic density. Experts say that the reason why most of the accidents take place during night is due to several factors such as straight road that puts the driver to sleep, scarce traffic and absence of traffic signs at regular interval. Actual weather conditions also play a major role such as during winter drivers encounter fog, during monsoon showers and during summer heated-up engines cause malfunction and subsequently accidents.
Whose fault is it anyway?
One of the major issues faced by police officials investigating road accident cases is to put responsibility on one of the vehicle drivers for the mishap that many a time turn fatal and cause medico-legal case. While various agencies have asked the police for a better understanding of the issue and report the incident as accurately as possible, police have now geared up for the challenge.
“If one looks at the police FIR, what it notes is the date, time and place of the incident, the name and address of the complainant, vehicle type and a short description on how the incident took place. The typical format does not allow further probe such as the bike rider died as he did not wear a helmet or he tried to overtake a heavy vehicle from the wrong side. As a thumb rule, whoever dies automatically becomes victim in the case, irrespective of the case whether he or she was wrong,” said a road safety expert.
In sensational cases such as BMW hit-and-run earlier this year, the police take longer time to collect evidences and reconstruct the incident to understand how the accident took place and what factors such as the speed of the vehicle, direction of it, condition of the driver and positioning of opposite vehicle played a role.
Dinesh Parmar, deputy commissioner of police (traffic), stated that they have emphasized with the city police to gather details on every fatal road accident for the similar analysis with help from experts. “A number of police officials have undergone training, especially for road accident investigation,” he said.