Vijay K. Saluja
Senior Fellow-Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi
& Ex Chief Engineer[civil], New Delhi Municipal Council
There are many things, which are happening daily, in our city[Delhi], bother me. But, what pains me most is- Accidents/ Death, on the roads.
Not a day passes, without reading in the newspapers/watching on the TV, the heart-rending news/ghastly pictures of accidents in our city. It is more a matter of anguish to observe at the way, deaths on the roads especially by Buses, were being reported.
Just imagine the anguish of all those hapless persons involved in these accidents-some loosing their limbs and hospitalisation/immobilization for months. For some very unlucky ones-loss of life & the ensuing mountain of agony & sorrow for their departed loved ones, besides loosing the bread winner, spending of huge money in hospital/recuperation expenses, emotional trauma, etc etc.
Why all this is happening with great rapidity & regularity, over the years? There are many reasons. Some of the main reasons, which come to mind are-too many vehicles of various modes, competing for their space in the limited road-width viz very big, powerful & fast vehicles -Blue Lines, dumpers, containers, JCB‘s, trucks, tractors with trolleys, plying in the same carriageway, where the small, weakest & slow vehicles plied by handicapped, cyclists, cycle rickshaws also move. Then, the geometry of our roads, ill-maintained dividers & islands, missing, ill-placed, ill maintained road signages, roads, footpaths , encroached by hawkers, construction agencies, make a deadly combination & a ready recipe for mishaps, to happen!
Add to this, the apathy of drivers- at times, ill-trained, minor, drunken, insensitivity of traffic police, transport department, local authorities, construction agencies, general public, lack of strict enforcement of laid down rules, unethical practices in issuing licences & booking of offenders & we have with us another deadly combo, of injuries & death on the roads.
What needs to be done urgently, is action on many fronts, by various stakeholders- proper care in issuing of driving licences, allowing only properly maintained vehicles on the roads with proper geometry ie separate unencroached areas for slow vehicles, strict enforcement of traffic rules, proper road marking & signages , well lighted, maintained roads & planned deployment of existing traffic police, which at times, one observes is not proper & for which, there is big scope of its improvement with proper administration, management motivation & training.
There is also need to encourage and educate public to help the injured/ accident –involved persons,which presently, the general public feels shy of doing so, due to many reasons. Though, there have been a few good-samaritans, like mr Singh of Ghaziabad who have rendered help without bothering for any consequences-keeping humane spirit as their top agenda, about whose good deeds, were being shown by NDTV ,sometime back.. Community, has also a big role to play in this serious area of curbing accidents & rendering help in case of accidents.
Role of Local authorities in proper maintenance of roads, footpaths & proper execution & management of ongoing works on roads by Metro-HSBC, Subways executing agencies etc, is most important & vital.
In this connection, Delhi Traffic Police have a very informative & useful website www.delhitrafficpolice.nic.in . In this website very useful information about various areas of road traffic management viz road safety, first aid,in case of accidents, what to do, types of helmets, information about informatory, regulatory & mandatory signboards ,persons to contact in case of accidents, information about traffic wardens, suggestion link, etc etc etc is given. Readers will find the same very useful.
There are many ways, accidents can be averted/curbed. But, what is needed, foremost is the right attitude & will of the authorities & community. Injection of strong dose of values & ethics into our society and existing system, is the need of the hour. So, what is preventing us to adopt the same for our own & our loved ones safety?!