Wednesday , 20 March 2019

How Safe are we on Our Roads?

Thumb rules go into creating wrong database: Sanjay Arora, Commissioner of Police, Chennai

This year, accidents and fatalities in Chennai are about 9% lower than the last year. Last year, they were at par than the previous year. This hasn?t happened only because of police action but police action has certainly contributed towards this along with some other reasons.

The enforcement level for deterrence of following the provisions of law is low. Even the fine of ?100 is very low ? a taxi or auto driver can include that every day in his operating cost. Concrete steps must be taken if proper analysis and research is to be carried out. The present analysis and research is all Western and doesn?t apply to the Indian scenario. It must be carried out in-house but that rarely happens.

In case of accidents, the data is mainly based on certain thumb rules of police and people. These thumb rules go into creating wrong database. Normally, it is believed that the bigger vehicle is always at fault and the smaller vehicle is the victim, irrespective of what the truth is. So if the accident is between a truck and a car, the truck driver will be considered to be at fault and between a car and a cycle, the car driver will be presumed to be at fault whereas the fact might be entirely different. The other thumb rule relates to injuries. Bigger the injuries, bigger are the chances of the person being considered the victim. The blame for accident on humans is more or less related to injuries, whatever the fact.

Given such thumb rules, the other reasons like environment and conditions do not get recorded at all. The real reason may go entirely undetected. If a vehicle falls into a gorge, facts like ?why it happened, was the driver sleeping, why did the driver sleep, how many hours? sleep did he get before driving, what are his duty hours,? etc., do not get reflected in the data recorded at all. A right analysis and research cannot take place when it is based on wrong thumb rules.

But all this is slowly changing. The impact will be felt in a couple of years with the right database based on good enforcement.

In Chennai, we do not miss out on the golden hour treatment in the city. Here, the EMRI ambulances are doing a wonderful job. Yes, the rural areas and highways face that problem. On a general note, one third people die on reaching the hospital. The hospital authorities need to tell why. Trauma Care centres at hospitals also need to be upgraded. The hospitals insist on the victim?s relatives paying the deposit before they begin the treatment even if the families of poor victims cannot pay the deposit. There are many other factors and these are complex issues. Since a driver drunk at the time of an accident does not get the insurance money, the families insist on hiding that fact and request to leave it out from the data. It is a huge gambit and the real reasons again do not get reflected in the records.

The government cannot be blamed for lack of road safety, at least not in Chennai. Here, the government is trying its best towards creating a proper database, bringing the latest technology on the city?s roads and towards proper research. It is a gradual process and results will take time.

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