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No mercy for drunk drivers

Naming and shaming of convicted drunk drivers are to be introduced this year. Having to drive with your headlights on will also be legislated over the next few months.

This commitment was made by Road Traffic Management Corporation spokesman Ashref Ismail on Talk Radio 702 following the release of the road death figures on Thursday.

It emerged that more than 1200 road accidents occurred, with the deaths of nearly 1500 people, over the festive season across South Africa.

Transport minister Ben Martins released the preliminary road death toll in Durban on Thursday.

Martins said the crashes occurred because of drunk driving, speeding, dangerous overtaking, failure to use seatbelts and vehicle unroadworthiness.

A pilot project was introduced in the Western Cape in 2012 to name and shame convicted drunk drivers.

Statistics show it is serving as a deterrent.

LeadSA has welcomed the commitment by the RTMC to name and shame convicted drunk drivers and to legislate in the next few months for motorists to drive with their headlights on.

LeadSA activist, Yusuf Abramjee, said there needed to be a multi-faceted approach to road safety.

“Naming and shaming drunk drivers will not be the overall solution – but it will assist in bringing down the high incidence of alcohol use by drivers.

“Driving with your headlines on during the day will increase visibility. Head-on collisions and pedestrian deaths are on the increase and the lights-on campaign will make a difference,” Abramjee said.

Ismail agreed and confirmed that the naming and shaming campaign would be introduced.

“We are talking to the Justice Department to ensure we get accurate details.”

Ismail said making it compulsory for all vehicles to drive with their lights on would be introduced this year, among other measures.

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe undertook in July to partner LeadSA in the campaign. However, he failed to deliver.

LeadSA said stricter law enforcement, an effective justice system and a change in behaviour by motorists were all necessary.

Martins said in Durban that “according to the SAPS, it is estimated that about 1465 people lost their lives”.

The deaths occurred from December 1 to January 8.

Forty percent of the crashes involved pedestrians, most of whom were found to be drunk.

Martins called for a ban on alcohol advertising to prevent motorists from driving drunk.

The death toll was lower than that in the 2011 festive season, when it was about 1700.

The RTMC’s acting chief executive, Collins Letsoala, said 60 percent of the road accidents were caused by drunk drivers.

They had cost the economy an estimated R180 billion of the R306 billion a year lost to road deaths.

The Automobile Association of South Africa said that the figures were an indication of the lack of “cohesive” direction from the various government transport organisations.

The AA said while it was devastated by the high number of crashes and fatalities announced, the public was still not getting the full picture of the carnage that occurred month by month.

“The ‘Decade of Action’ was launched in 2011,” said Gary Ronald, the head of public affairs at the AA.

“Since then, no real projects other than enforcement have been implemented.

“Real action to curb the road carnage is impossible when there is no cohesive strategy.”

Despite several strategies from transport bodies, there was still no policy framework in evidence for road safety, Ronald said.

The “Decade of Action for Road Safety” was launched on May 11, 2011.

Governments from around the world took a decision then to increase action to improve road safety to prevent five million road deaths globally by 2020.

“The continuing division between government bodies is clearly doing more harm than good as the number of deaths on our roads has not decreased over the 2012 period,” Ronald said.

The AA would be engaging with the government at a senior level to find a workable solution to stop the carnage on the country’s roads, he added.

“Planning is only as good as its implementation and that we have seen little of.”

Over the festive season, 1 282 586 vehicles were stopped and checked at 226 roadblocks, leading to 3944 people being arrested for a variety of offences.

Letsoala said there would be a renewed focus on corrupt driving schools and officers. – Pretoria News

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Enhance punishment for drunk driving, says VC

Bar owners should make combined efforts to educate customers

Expressing concern over increasing deaths in road accidents caused by drunken drivers, Nitte University Vice Chancellor Dr V Shantaram Shetty called for enhancing punishment for such offences.

He was speaking after inaugurating the 24th national road safety week jointly organised by the district administration, the Transport Department and the Police Department at Town Hall on Monday. He said that though many lose their lives in accident cases, the law is lenient for the drunk and drive cases and the accused are easily given bail. Hence, amendments should be made in the law to make the punishment more stringent, he said.

Giving out a few statistics, Dr Shetty said of the 50 crore accidents occur in the world every year and on an average 1.10 crore people lose their lives. Of them, India accounts for one crore accidents and 1.2 lakh deaths. At least one death is reported in every six minutes in the country. Having this high rate of accidents, drivers should drive safely, considering the importance of lives of the other travellers and pedestrians. “Every driver has to develop a feeling of empathy towards other fellow-beings which would lead to safe driving and less accidents,” he suggested.

Chief guest of the programme, IGP (Western Range) Pratap Reddy too stressed on the responsibility of the people to follow the traffic rules. “Nearly 90 per cent of the time of traffic police is spent on enforcement of the rules and guidelines and only 10 per cent is spent on traffic flow management. If citizens act responsibly, police could spend more time on enforcement and other constructive purpose,” he said.

Taking a note of drunk and drive cases, he said the bar and restaurant owners should educate and advice the customers to drive home safe.

If all the bars and restaurants take up a combined initiative to educate their customers for a fixed duration, it would definitely reduce the accident cases. The IGP asked the private bus drivers to respect other drivers too by making way for them to overtake. He said that a large number of deaths in India happen due to accidents, compared to other crimes.

First aid boxes were distributed to some selected auto rickshaw stands. Deputy Speaker N Yogish Bhat presided over.

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Six killed, 16 injured as mini-truck, bus collide near Erode

The victims were primarily those who travelled on the footboard

Six persons were killed and 16 others injured when a mini-truck hit a State Transport Corporation bus on the National Highway 47 at Chithode in Erode district on Sunday afternoon.

The bus was proceeding from Coimbatore to Salem. After a halt at Chithode town, the bus was re-entering the highway from a service road when it hit the mini-truck. the bus overturned, crushing five persons to death.

Three of the deceased were identified as Govindaraj (20) of Karumanthurai in Salem district, Sankar (49) of Harur in Dharmapuri district and Dharman (20) of Annur.

Eyewitnesses said the bus was overloaded with passengers who were heading home to celebrate the Pongal. The victims were primarily those who travelled on the footboard.

The driver drove the vehicle carelessly and entered into the highway without noticing the mini-truck, A. Selvi, a passenger of the bus, claimed. The injured have been admitted to various hospitals. Traffic on the highway was disrupted for more than an hour, the police said.

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I-75 South back open after early morning crash at Alico Rd.

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Southbound lanes of I-75 at mile marker 126 are back open after an early morning crash. FHP says just after 2 a.m. Sunday, five separate crashes involving six cars shut down the interstate.

The crashes involved six drivers and nine passengers. In total, eight people were taken to the hospital including two trauma alerts. One of them was a child that was air lifted to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers.

FHP said two people were also arrested for driving under the influence.

In the first crash, 23-year-old Andrew Rojas was driving his truck south on I-75, when he hit the back of an Expedition with 5 people inside. One of them, a 7-year-old boy, is in serious condition at Lee Memorial Hospital.

Rojas was arrested and charged with driving under the influence with injuries and careless driving.

The Expedition was sitting idle in the middle of the interstate when another car, driven by 34-year-old Andres Hernandez-Dominguez came up and hit it.

He was also arrested and and charged with driving under the influence with injuries and careless driving.

Two more cars hit the Expedition, and another car crashed into the median while trying to avoid it.

The interstate opened back up around 9:45 a.m.

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Fundraiser For Teen Killed In Telegraph Road Accident

DEARBORN HEIGHTS (WWJ) – A local family hopes to raise money for a teenager killed by a reckless driver.

A fundraiser has been set up Sunday for 18-year-old Markel Jackson Willis, one of two teens killed in a tragic car accident in Dearborn Heights on January 4.
Police report that their car was smashed into by a driver going upwards of 90 miles an hour as he was fleeing the scene of a hit-and-run accident.

The driver of the speeding car was killed as well.

The fundraiser will take place January 13th from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the Traction Bar and Grill in Dearborn Heights.

Willis’ family hopes to raise enough money to cover the cost of the teen’s funeral.

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India truck accident ‘kills 25′ in Bihar

At least 25 people, including 11 children, have been killed when the truck they were travelling in overturned in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, the police said.
The driver and his assistant have fled the scene, police officer Praveen Kumar Parai told the Press Trust of India.

The injured passengers have been taken to a hospital in Aurangabad district.

Road accidents kill hundreds of Indians every year. Most are blamed on reckless driving, old vehicles and bad roads.

The truck was carrying 35 labourers who were returning home after harvesting crops, when the speeding vehicle overturned.

A state government minister, Ramadhar Singh, has announced a compensation of 50,000 rupees ($914; £570) for the families of the victims.

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More deaths due to road mishaps than militancy in JK: DGP

Jammu, Jan 7: Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed more deaths in traffic accidents than due to militancy in the last one decade, state Director General of Police (DGP) Ashok Prasad said Monday.
“Traffic deaths are higher than militancy or any other category of crime during the last one decade in the state,” Prasad told reporters after flagging off a Road Safety Rally from police sports stadium here.
About 90 per cent of the road mishaps can be averted by following the traffic norms, he said.
The Road Safety Rally, organised by traffic police and transport department, after traversing through Panama Chowk, Bahu Plaza, Green Belt and Gandhi Nagar culminated at the police sports stadium.
The DGP said the rally would help in generating awareness among people about the road safety measures.

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70 perish in road accidents

Police statistics indicate that since the 15th of this month 70 people have been killed and 412 others injured in 579 road accidents which occurred as from the 15th of this month.
During the same period last year, 32 people were killed, while 247 others were injured in 509 road accidents. Festive period accident monitoring starts from December 15 to January 15.

Police statistics show that 89 people had been killed by December 31 last year. Road accidents cause more deaths if steps are not taken to curb carnage on the roads. Speaking to the Herald yesterday, police spokesperson Superintendent Tinaye Matake confirmed the acci­dents covering December 15 to yester­day morning.

“In a period extending from December 15 to date (yesterday) we received 579 cases of road accidents throughout the country.

“Out of this number, 46 were fatal with 70 people being killed and more than 412 injured.”

Supt Matake said four people were arrested for driving without valid drivers’ licences.

“We have 8 175 cases of people who were arrested for carrying excess pas­sengers and 502 for driving while talk­ing on cellphones.

“Our teams impounded 546 vehi­cles with various defects and 8 666 tickets were issued out.”

Supt Matake, however, declined to disclose the amount of money col­lected so far.

He attributed most of the accidents to speeding, inattentiveness, misjudg­ment, overtaking errors, reversing and turning mistakes.
Harare recorded the highest num­ber of number of accidents.

“Harare was leading with 244 road accidents that killed six people. In Bul­awayo, 82 accidents took place and three people died.

“Midlands is third with 61 accidents and eight deaths. Thirteen people died in Matabeleland North Province in 16 accidents that were recorded.

“Matabeleland South had 25 acci­dents where eight people died. Masvingo had 33 accidents which claimed 12 lives, Manicaland 53 acci­dents and six deaths, Mashonaland Central and East had 11 and 26 acci­dents resulting in the death of one and 10 people respectively. Mashonaland West recorded 29 accidents, leaving three people dead,” he said.

Supt Matake urged motorists to exercise caution.

“All motorists should treasure life and safeguard it. They should desist from overloading their vehicles so as to avoid accidents because overload­ing will result in tyres bursting, failure to control vehicles in emergencies and killing of innocent souls,” he said.

Meanwhile, police in Hurungwe have warned motorists against bribery at roadblocks.

Officer Commanding Hurungwe District Chief Superintendent Justin Mandizha said travellers must exercise their rights by refusing to pay bribes demanded by corrupt policemen at roadblocks.

“It is everyone’s right to freely travel to places of their choice during this festive season and we urge all motorists never to pay bribes to some wayward officers manning some road blocks.

“Motorists must have zero tolerance to bribery and extortion. They should quickly report such cases so that the perpetrators are brought to book.

“As police, we also urge all road users to exercise caution on our roads and not to drink and drive since this can only bring sadness when people must be enjoying their Christmas and New Year holiday.”

Closing the 13th Zanu-PF Annual National People’s Conference in Gweru this month, President Mugabe expressed concern over policemen who were taking bribes from moto-rists.

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Srinagar choked, plan new townships, High Court tells state government

Court responds to PIL on ‘misuse’ of agrarian land
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, December 18
Keeping in view the population explosion and the exploitation of prime agriculture lands for construction purposes, particularly in Srinagar, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court has directed the state government to bring out some plans to accommodate the increasing demand for residential places in the city.

These directions have been issued by a division bench of the High Court while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by an NGO calling for a ban on the conversion of agrarian land into residential land this week.

The PIL had also prayed for court directions to stop the creation and expansion of residential and housing colonies on the agriculture land in Srinagar and other areas of the state.

As per the J&K Economic Survey 2011-12, the operated area under agriculture in the state has shrunk from 9.26 lakh hectares in 2000-01 to 9.23 lakh hectares in 2010-11, thus registering a decrease of 0.041 per cent. As pointed out in the survey, one of the prime reasons for decrease in agriculture land holdings has been attributed to its conversion for construction and other purposes.

“Keeping in view the population explosion and the limited area available within the jurisdiction of Srinagar Development Authority (SDA), as allocated in the Master Plan, some suggestions have been made by both sides (respondents as well as the petitioners),” the division bench comprising Chief Justice MM Kumar and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar observed in its orders. The state government and its officials are the respondents in the case.

The bench further observed that the area “allocated to Residential Zone has already been consumed.”

“It has been pointed out that some area in the adjoining vicinity of the city of Srinagar be developed for accommodating the ever-increasing demands for residential places. A new town should be sufficient to accommodate the demand (for residential areas) which has been repeatedly raised”, the bench observed in its detailed orders while accepting the fact that residential spaces in the Srinagar city have choked.

The bench also observed that the limited available space for residential purpose many a time results in illegal activities like conversion of agriculture lands.

“Such demands sometimes find expression in the illegal activities of the nature indicated in the present PIL,” the bench observed.

Keeping in view the ever-increasing demand for residential space in urban areas, including Srinagar city, the J-K High Court has told the state government to come up with plans of townships in adjoining areas of Srinagar.

“In the days to come, the official respondents shall explore the possibility by bringing out some plans in the adjoining areas of Srinagar city to accommodate the increasing demand for residential places,” the high court said in its orders, adding that these plans should be placed before the court by or before the first week of March, when the PIL will come up for hearing again.

It added that such a course had been necessitated in order to avoid the illegal activities of colonisers and also to provide planned development with all the facilities which may be in accordance with the rule of law as well as in the interest of the revenue development.

The court, however, added that the earlier court stay on any illegal construction on agriculture land shall continue to be effective in and around Suzait, Goripora and Narbal villages in Budgam and Srinagar districts.

Court directive

In the days to come, the official respondents shall explore the possibility by bringing out some plans in the adjoining areas of Srinagar city to accommodate the increasing demand for residential places
A course has been necessitated in order to avoid the illegal activities of colonisers and also to provide planned development with all facilities which may be in accordance with the rule of law
The plans (of the government) should be placed before the court by or before the first week of March, when the PIL will come up for hearing again

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Ultimate test of your nerves, endurance

Travelling in and around the city during peak hours is a nightmare. In the first of a six-part series, Chandigarh Tribune reporter Ritika Jha Palial and photographer S. Chandan take the Airport road and explain how and why the situation has come to such a pass

          caught in a crawl

For commuters living in Zirakpur, who visit the city to reach their offices and education institutions everyday, spending a major part of their time on roads has become a compulsion.

A commuter, who starts afresh from home every morning, has to cover a distance of 6.7 km in 45 minutes, driving in a crawl applying brakes every two minutes and find the correct lane.

While cross-lane driving is a big problem in the absence of sync between the three directions of signals at the Airport and Hallo Majra lights t, the barricades put up at the entry point to Chandigarh from Zirakpur which block two of the three lanes on the road add to the woes of the commuters.

Tribune reporter Ritika Jha Palial and photographer S. Chandan travelled on the 6.7 km stretch of Zirakpur to the Tribune Chowk road, during normal as well as peak rush hours to find out the plight of the commuters who bear with the traffic mismanagement twice everyday.

Choke points

Hallo Majra light point, Airport light point and exit point of Chandigarh and entry point of Zirakpur (about 1 km ahead of Zirakpur main lights) are the main choke points of the area.

No sync between the three directions of the traffic signals

The signals for going straight, left and right do not work together at the Airport light point and the Hallo Majra light point. At both the light points, while the signals for going straight and left work together, there is a time lapse between the two and the right signal. This leads to confusion among the commuters everyday as cars lined up at the right lane, start moving leftwards blocking the traffic movement.

Barricades at entry point to Chandigarh-Zirakpur border point

Barricades placed on both sides of the road, block a major part of the road. This causes a slowdown in the movement of the traffic leading to a huge traffic jam. It usually takes about 10 minutes to cover the point from Zirakpur main light point.

Separate lane for two-wheelers

A separate lane for two wheelers runs parallel to the stretch between entry point to Chandigarh and Hallo Majra light point on both sides. While the purpose of the separate lane was to ensure smooth plying of cars and two-wheelers on separate lanes, only a few two-wheelers can be seen moving on the separate lanes. Others continue to ply on the main road. Also, a number of cars can be seen moving on the separate two-wheeler lane, leading to further mismanagement and cross lane driving.

Problems you have to grapple with

Kind of traffic: The commuters on this road include working class population, students and shop-owners.

Kind of vehicles: Majority of the vehicles include cars, followed by two-wheelers, buses and auto-rickshaws.

Presence of policemen managing traffic

  • Tribune Chowk: No policemen
  • Chowk dividing Colony Number 4 and Hallo Majra: Three policemen
  • Hallo Majra Chowk: No policemen
  • Airport Chowk: Four policemen
  • Zirakpur main light point: Four policemen
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In slowmo they go, cursing road they follow

In the second part of the series on city’s traffic chaos, Chandigarh Tribune reporter Akash Ghai and photographer Vicky Gharu take the Piccadilly Road and tell you how and why the situation has turned so grim.
The “City Beautiful”, with its “Open Hand” insignia, might be famous for wide, clean and planned road infrastructure but there are certain roads, which can prove to be a commuter’s bane. Thanks to poor traffic mismanagement and Chandigarh Administration’s inability to come up with proper planning. In the 114 sq km area of the City Beautiful, with a population of about 11 lakh, the number of registered vehicles is said to be nearly nine lakh. Thousands of vehicles from outstations, especially from Mohali, Zirakpur, Kharar and Panchkula, come in the city everyday so the heavy load on the local road network is obvious. But there are certain roads, on which riding a four-wheeler is a challenge.

The Tribune staffers travelled on the 6.2 km stretch of Mohali-Chandigarh Road, popularly known as “Piccadilly Road”, during the normal and peak rush hours to find out how the road tested the patiencen of commuters.

It took 42 minutes to complete the journey, which should have ideally been over within 15 minutes. The stretch from South End roundabout (Sectors 43, 44, 34 and 35) to Bus Stand, Sector 17, witnessed the maximum rush. At the Metro traffic light point and Aroma light points, the Tribune team had to wait for second green signal as it was not possible to cross the lights during the first green signal.

“The road is too narrow to cope up with the heavy traffic inflow. Underpasses should be constructed on the Delhi pattern so that there are no traffic jams”, said Anup Sharma, a businessman of Sector 21.

Sector 34-35 dividing road: Vehicles move in different lanes, leading to traffic snarls.

Sectors 34, 35, 43 and 44 roundabout: Policemen deputed near the Sectors 34, 35, 43 and 44 roundabout busy issuing challans to four-wheeler drivers.

It was found that several people do not drive their vehicles in lanes and cross-lane driving was a common feature. “Everyone wants to reach at his/her destination on time so such offences have to be ignored”, said a traffic policeman on duty.

The cycle track, constructed along the roadside, was almost empty as all the cyclists, rickshaw-pullers and horse carts were seen plying on the main road thus slowing down the traffic movement.

“You can avoid this road in the city if you do not want to be harassed”, said a commuter.


I don’t think the Administration is serious about traffic management in the city. The road users are being harassed everyday. To cover a distance of seven km (between my home and my workplace), I have to leave my home 45 minutes early. Though I leave home early, I still get late to work.

Jarnail Singh

Travelling on this stretch, especially during morning and evening hours, is really harrowing. The situation is no different at noon. I usually avoid using the road during these hours. I am unable to understand why the Administration is not doing anything to curb traffic chaos.

Sabby Anand

As far as traffic scenario is concerned only metro can solve the problem. Here, everybody wants to travel on his own vehicle. I have read somewhere that in Chandigarh, which has an area of 114 sq km and population of about 11 lakh, the number of vehicles is around 14 lakh. So one can well imagine the scenario here.

J P Singh

Underpasses — need of the hour

Road users feel that underpasses are the need of the hour. With addition of about three hundred vehicles everyday, the situation will worsen in the coming days, so the administration should come up with proper planning before the situation goes out of ‘control’. There is a need to set designated routes and timings for three-wheelers. These should not be allowed on roads during peak hours.


There are several plans, but where is the space? Due to the heritage status of the city, we can’t construct flyovers and the proposal of constructing underpasses has been rejected. Earlier, there was a plan to use the space of cycle track to widen the road in Sector 34 and to add parking space in front of the Hotel Lane, but it was also shelved.

SK Chadha, UT Chief Engineer

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Worldwide Road Deaths- A Major Epidemic

Very few people realize that traffic deaths are one of the leading causes of death in the world and the number one cause of death for young people. This is because they happen one by one, here and there, and not in mass events, so they get less attention. (1)

Here’s one way to get attention: traffic deaths worldwide kill the equivalent number of people as would perish in 9 jumbo jet crashes every day. Think of the headlines for 9 jet crashes every day of the year.

World traffic injuries are taking the lives of 145 people every hour of every day (totaling 3500 per day). This is more than two a minute and adds up to something like 1.3 million people dying on the world’s roads each year and a further 20 to 30 million people suffering injuries, often debilitating ones. As Mike Bloomberg says, “Make no mistake about it: this is a problem that affects us all—especially the world’s poorest. Ninety percent of these fatalities occur in the world’s rapidly urbanizing low-and middle-income nations.” (2)

For comparison purposes, in the United States about 115 people die every day on our roads, about one death every 13 minutes. (3)

Bloomberg adds, “And at the same time, 74 million new cars are hitting the world’s roads each year—roughly half of those in low-and middle-income nations. And if you do the math, that works out to roughly 65 new cars a minute. Now, as new roads get built, and more cars and drivers take to the road, the problem of road safety will only get worse. In fact, The World Health Organization predicts that traffic crashes will become the world’s 5th leading cause of death by the year 2030.” (2)

How to fix the problem? New York City in one example. The City has worked very hard to improve road safety by a combination of engineering innovations, stronger enforcement, and public information campaigns. For instance, by engineering traffic signals and expanding medians, they’ve given people more time to cross wide streets safely. They’ve expanded bike lanes and seen a rise in safety for everyone on those roads. Since 2004, there have been fewer traffic fatalities each year on New York streets at any time since the year 1910, which was the first year these kinds of statistics began to be kept.

Think about this. New York is safer today than they were when the population was much smaller. It just goes to show that a difference can be made, reports Mike Bloomberg. He adds, “But as we’ve learned in our city over the past nine years, many other interventions can be effective as well. That includes promoting the use of seat belts and helmets, tougher enforcement of drinking and driving laws, safer speed controls and improved mass transit options.” Now, drawing on these lessons, his foundation has launched a five-year $125 million program to improve road safety around the world. The campaign is targeting the 10 low-and middle-income countries that make up almost half of all road traffic fatalities worldwide. (2)

On another front, the year 2011 marked the start of a UN Decade of Action for Road Safety. This marked something of a breakthrough. After years of neglect, road safety has at last registered as a global public health epidemic that can only be effectively treated through international cooperation. (4)

1. Randy Walton, “Traffic accidents, leading cause of deaths worldwide,”, June 16, 2009
2. Mike Bloomberg, “Importance of reducing global traffic fatalities,”, April 19, 2011
3., “How many deaths are caused by car accidents a year?”, accessed November 24, 2012
4. Kevin Watkins, “Safe and sustainable roads: an agenda for Rio +20,” October 2012

Jack Dini
Livermore, CA

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Road Safety: ‘Terrorist’ In Our Driving Seat

When Ajmal Kasab, the biggest symbol of terrorism in free India’s history, was hanged in Yarvada jail, the entire nation took a sigh of relief. Kasab and his gang of terrorists killed 195 ordinary citizens within a few hours on ’26/11′ to make it the blackest day in the history of terrorism in modern India. Official statistics put terrorism related deaths at 43,311 during the last quarter century since 1988 when terror related violence in Punjab and Jammu-Kashmir erupted with full force. Putting all terrorism related deaths since 1947 together these figures touch a shocking 100,000 mark.
No surprise that terrorism today occupies the topmost place in the mind of ordinary Indian citizens and our opinion and policy makers. However, what is far more surprising is that almost the entire nation stands oblivious and aloof to a far more fatal ‘terrorism’ that has come to occupy our nation’s steering on our roads — literally. Statistics from the National Crime Record Bureau at the Centre and other agencies dealing with roads and traffic safety reveal that Indian drivers kill more people on our roads every year than all the terrorism related deaths in the past 60 years of free India put together.
In 2011 alone, the number of people who were killed due to someone’s mistake or carelessness on the Indian roads was 142,485. Speaking simple mathematics, at least two ’26/11′s happened every day on our roads with a daily average toll of 390 throughout last year. In addition, there were 511,394 ‘lucky’ individuals who survived in these accidents, but were left disabled temporarily or permanently for life due to their road crash injuries.
According to the Director, Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability at the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Etienne Krug, road crash injuries kill nearly 1.3 million people every year and the number may jump to 1.9 million in 2020 if road safety is not seriously attended to across the globe. In addition, there are 20 to 50 million people who suffer non-fatal injuries with many among them disabled permanently. Dr. Krug had an active role in launching 2011-2020 as the ‘Decade of Action for Road Safety’ by the WHO.
Underlining the economic and social cost of this reckless violence on the road, Dr. Krug refers to world trends in road traffic fatalities, “More than 41 per cent of those who are killed on roads belonged to the low income countries. Adding these death figures to the middle income countries shows that about 91.5 % of the victims of road crashes belong to non-rich countries. And almost half of the victims belong to vulnerable groups like pedestrians, cyclists and two-wheeler riders.” Figures show that over half of road victims are males in their youthful working years. This has a grave economic and social impact on the affected families.
Realising the social and national costs of fatalities in road accidents many governments have taken serious steps towards bringing down the number of road accidents and resulting fatalities in recent years. In addition to having already attended to the basic issues such as improving road designs, vehicle safety regulations and strong laws on issuing driving licences etc., many governments have made special efforts in implementing some specific road safety practices like compulsory wearing of seat-belt, helmets and child restraints, stricter monitoring of safe speed limits and alcohol monitoring through breath analysis.
Such steps have proved highly productive in terms of cost and benefit. For example, in Australia regular but random breath-testing to punish drivers under the influence of alcohol has resulted in a 36% drop in fatalities in New South Wales, 42 % in Tasmania and 40% in Victoria. According to the WHO, the cost-benefit ratio turned out to be an impressive 1:56 in this case.
But unfortunately, the situation is just the opposite in India where anything that could go wrong in road safety has actually gone wrong. Things have only gone worse with the improving vehicle buying capacities of the middle class Indian as a result of the ongoing economic boom. Right from road designing and maintenance of vital civic services such as street lighting or traffic signals to vehicle safety measures; from discipline in issuing driving licences to an effective policing of road discipline and; from developing a responsible outlook among individual drivers to corporate social responsibility (CSR) of vehicle manufacturers on issues like advertising and public education, hardly anything appears to be at the right place.
Although India has emerged as the most lucrative market for car and commercial vehicles in the world today, the CSR among the manufacturers is more conspicuous by its near total absence. It looks truer for the car and two-wheeler makers. In a country where driving license can be openly procured through bribe and personal influence, it looks strange that barring a handful exceptions like Maruti Suzuki, no other vehicle manufacturer could think of launching or sponsoring some high quality driving schools in a market where any prospective buyer is also a driver.
It is equally shocking to note that social icons like Shahrukh Khan see no moral or legal wrong doing in advertising a car by proving its ‘zing’ value by recklessly overtaking other vehicles on a congested road. Even Tata, a company which has won social accolades for its practices in CSR, decides to present is car more as a tool of fun on the road. In a much played TV ad, the marketing bosses of the company used a gang of merry making bunch of rich, young boys and girls who run almost amuck on a public road to play a game involving firing of something like ketchup on each others’ cars with their water guns?
Media’s awareness towards its role as a public educator too has become important only because of its near total absence on a serious public safety issue like road accidents. A recent study conducted by the Centre for Media Studies (CMS) in Delhi, Jalandhar and Hyderabad discovered a serious lack of awareness among some most popular newspapers towards their social responsibility of improving road safety awareness while reporting road crashes. In some high profile road accidents like the BMW car accident and the Ludlow Castle School bus tragedy in Delhi, it was widely noticed that most of the TV channels were more focused on improving their own TRPs than analysing the socio-economic costs of such ghastly tragedies.
In most cities the performance of traffic police on improving road safety too leaves much to be desired. We notice some knee jerk and ad-hoc activism of traffic police against tinted glass windows or drunken driving only when events like gang rape in a running car or road rage by drunken sons of the rich and powerful become focus of media reports. Experts are now seriously suggesting that traffic governance on Indian roads should be entrusted to an independent traffic agency than leaving it to the mercy of musical chair games of crime police in most of our cities.
In a country where indifferent attitude of local civic authorities towards maintenance of roads and street lighting, utter lack of road sense among pedestrians and near total absence of social responsibility among the drivers lead to most of fatal accidents, it is time that archaic laws like ‘Motor Vehicle Act’ are replaced by a comprehensive ‘Road Safety Act’. At least some brakes shall be put on the ‘terrorist’ on the road.

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Campaign against drunk driving launched

HYDERABAD: The World Health Organisation(WHO) in collaboration with city police launched a multi-media campaign against drunk driving in the twin cities here on Wednesday. Setting off the month-long awareness campaign, P V S Ramakrishna, DCP (traffic) flagged off display of a car, which was wrecked in an accident to sensitise general public on dangers of drunk driving.

As part of the awareness campaign, filmmakers in the city will be encouraged to make short films on the theme “Do Not Drink and Drive”.
The participants will be given two days to complete the film. All the films made as part of this campaign will be circulated through social media to create larger awareness among young drivers. As per police records, a total of 10,277 drunken drivers were booked in Hyderabad from November 4, 2011 to November 3, 2012.

The campaign is part of the Road Safety (RS-10) initiative launched by WHO in 10 countries across the globe. In India, the RS-10 project started in April 2010 and the first phase was completed in December 2011.

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The Rape In Delhi And The Neglect Of Public Transport

The horrible gang rape and assault on a girl medical student in New Delhi on the night of December 16 has led to calls for hanging and castration of the criminals. But the incident needs to be seen more critically in the wider social context of the neglect of public transport and people’s basic needs of mobility. Unlike other rapes this has taken place in a public transport vehicle, though it is privately owned. The authorities are as responsible as the culprits. There is some awareness in the government about the problems of public transport but this is mainly among a few bureaucrats in Delhi and the main problem is that there is a complete lack of political will to promote public transport and curb private vehicles as recommended by the National Urban Transport Policy of 2006. This is my view after a study of several years and participation in the annual international urban mobility conferences in Delhi in the last three years organized by the union urban development department and the Institute of Urban Transport . The latest conference was held in Delhi earlier this month in the very exclusive confines of the posh Maneskshaw Centre of the Indian Army at Dhaula Kuan and there were many progressive voices raised there which considerably impressed Peter Newman, the author of the book Overcoming Automobile Dependence. He told me so. But in reality moving about in Delhi, the capital itself, is extremely hazardous and public bus transport is not easy to access. I soon found this out for myself, though I had experienced this earlier.. There is a wide divergence between how politicians and the corporate elite want to configure our cities and the actual state of affairs. On the last day of the conference there was a discussion on Smart Cities and information technology solutions in which representatives of Siemens, Infosys and IBM made presentations. Smart cities yes, but how about providing basic services to people, upholding their right to life and ensuring that people travel with dignity and comfort or that they are not killed in public transport ? The actual state of affairs is deadly, literally. First, to cross the road on foot to reach Manekshaw Centre is like confronting death. There is relentless vehicular traffic, mainly private cars, on the Delhi Gurgaon highway and there is no traffic signal here. Then I remembered what a United Nations official Kulwant Singh had told me some time earlier that it takes him almost half an hour to cross the road in Gurgaon.So while private cars are pampered, pedestrians and public transport are brazenly discriminated against, humiliated, in fact. And the nearest bus shelter for Manekshaw Centre is no less than 1.5 km which is at Dhaula Kuan. One can imagine the plight of several workers who work in the Centre and in surrounding areas. This makes nonsense of all the talk of seamless transport, smart , high tech transport that one constantly hears from authorities. And the walk on this stretch is quite hazardous as well, especially in front of the high tech military hospital in the area where one can never get access in case you are knocked down by a car. The only possible reason why there is no bus stop anywhere close to the Centre is obviously that they do not want to hinder car traffic which always is given priority and that is really the undoing of the public transport system. One day I took a bus for conference delegates and even this was not allowed to stop at the Delhi Transport Corporation bus stop which is 1.5 km. away . So our bus took a long detour, went past a fly over over a long distance and we were offloaded on the other side of the road. We had to make a steep climb up a bridge and even here were stopped as some VIP vehicle was passing by and we commoners were seen as a threat to the VIP. After finally managing to get a DTC bus, I found that it broke down on the way and there was another long walk to another bus stop. Anyway, it is always good to walk and take public transport as it is the only way one can understand the plight of common people which one can never imagine from the luxury of an air conditioned car. As for the rape, another sad part is that it took place in a public bus and this can undermine women’s faith in public transport. As it is women are subjected to other forms of sexual harassment in public transport. If the government is serious about its stated public objective of promoting public transport, it must take steps to make public transport safe and reliable. Delhi city’s planning also needs reorientation. As the Unified Transport and traffic Infrastructue and Planning and Engineering Centre UTTIPEC) in Delhi has pointed out there are vast stretches of roads in Delhi which have a cluster of private fortresses with high walls. These make life on the outside unsafe. A majority of people are treated as unwanted in our system. Jane Jacobs, the most influential author on urban issues, is famous for her stress on people-friendly streets, localities with mixed neighbourhoods, all streets should have shops and this helps prevent crime to a substantial extent in urban areas because people constantly go to shops and the shop-keeper looks out on the street. Eyes on the street. That is her famous coinage. Unfortunately, she is ignored even by our architects and planners. Of course many bureaucrats and politicians are not even likely to have heard of her. Her book Death and Life of Great American Cities written in 1961 is the best guide for a people friendly street environment. At the recent urban mobility conference, Mr Dinesh Mohan, the transport expert from IIt Delhi, did well to stress the importance of shops and hawkers on streets as a way to prevent crime. Facilities for hawkers should be integrated into urban design, he said, though he did not mention Jane Jacobs. In Asian countries street crime is low because of shops on the ground floor, he said. Mr Dinesh Mohan also lashed out at the neglect of non-motorised transport and the emphasis on high tech, expensive transport projects. Interestingly, the urban development minister, Mr Kamal Nath, concentrated on speaking on high tech, expensive Metro rail projects and he had nothing to say about pedestrians and non-motorised vehicles even though these form a bulk of the urban transport scene. Of course, safety of commuters seldom seems to bother authorities and they seldom talk about it unless there is a hue and cry over a case like the recent rape and assault. Mr Jaipal Reddy, the then urban development minister, had shown much more realism when he spoke two years ago at the mobility conference in Delhi. He sincerely demanded a better deal for public transport and pedestrians and lamented the lack of political will. And that is where the rub lies. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi recently went by a special bus for a Congress conclave on the outskirts of Delhi. Mercifully they avoided the use of luxury cars. They apparently wanted to make a gesture, though it seems so empty. But they clearly need to understand much more about the fate of public transport users. They should realize that public transport is crucial in the context of climate change, improving our carbon footprint, reducing emissions and meeting the growing challenge of congested cities. These are all international issues. Let the leaders at least heed international opinion, if not the cry of common people who are victims of a brutal transport system. It is often said in respect of Mumbai’s overcrowded trains that politicians must be forced to travel in them to understand the gravity of the problem. Now, people should insist that politicians in Delhi should travel by DTC and other buses. These guys talk of globalization all the time. Why don’t they travel by public transport as leaders in other countries, especially in Europe, do ? Vidyadhar Date is a senior journalist and author of the book Traffic in the Era of Climate Change. Walking, Cycling, Public Transport need Priority

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Road accident emerge as main killer disease for youngsters in Indore

INDORE: Ever increasing number of vehicles, poor traffic management and lack of traffic sense among Indoreans are claiming more and more young life-mainly college students—in avoidable road accidents in Indore. Road accidents in city are claiming two lives in a day and around 58 in a month. Till now 690 people have died in road accidents, out of which nearly 500 are students under 25 years of age, and still 15 days still remain in this calendar year.

Road accidents have emerged as one of the major causes of death of youngsters in the city; no other disease claims so many young lives than road accidents. According to the statistics compiled by Save Life Cycle, an NGO, till now this year 431 college youngsters have died in road accidents and 71 school students (up to class X) have lost their lives in road accidents.
Praful Joshi of Save Life Cycle said two-wheeler riders have become biggest casualty of road accidents, till now 493 two-wheeler riders (mainly college students) have died. Highlighting the lack of traffic sense among students, Joshi said overtaking has been listed as a major cause of accidents in 90 per cent cases of road accident deaths. Not only this 80 per cent of people died in road accidents were not carrying licenses and 75 per cent of two-wheeler riders died in road accidents were not carrying licenses.

Based on the rate at which accidents are taking place in the city, by the end of the calendar year Indore may end up as the city with highest number of road accident deaths in the country.

“Right now we are neck to neck with two other cities in deaths due to road accident-Nasik (689) and Pune (679). Allahabad is next with 643 deaths. Till last year Indore was number three in deaths due to road accidents,” Joshi said.

He said death in road accidents by buses of schools and colleges are significant, till now 114 deaths because of school and college buses have been recorded this year. “Despite this institutions are not taking initiatives for road safety. There are no strict guidelines for drivers of these buses,” Joshi pointed.

This year a different trend of accidents has emerged and bypass and ring roads have become death zones. “With the rapid expansion of city and mushrooming schools and college on outskirts lakhs of people are now using bypass and ring road to reach their work places and institutions. It has exposed them to flow of heavy vehicles which are proving to be fatal. Till now 512 people have died in road accidents due to heavy vehicles including buses and trucks,” Joshi said.

In city BRTS has emerged as killer road with 32 deaths till now, out of which 27 are college students. “Most of the accidents causing deaths on BRTS have occurred due to overspeeding,” Joshi said.

He said menace of road accidents can be dealt only with proper traffic education and strict implementation of traffic norms. “Mainly it is the youngsters who are dying in road accidents. So it is important for the schools and college to have compulsory traffic education programme as mentioned in CBSE guidelines,” Joshi said adding that youngsters who are dying in road accidents are educated, so it is not just a loss to the family but to the country as nation is losing skilled human resources.

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Texting while driving more dangerous

MUSCAT — An incomplete SMS or a half-way ended conversation, are very often the unfortunate remnants found in the crushed mobile phones at accident sites that the Royal Oman Police (ROP) investigates frequently, according to a key official at the operations department of the ROP.
Speaking to the Observer, the official said texting while driving is 200 times fatal than speaking on the phone. “Typing SMS or reading the received one is more dangerous than speaking on the phone while you are behind the wheels. Texting is also often 200 times dangerous than speaking on the phone but both are equally punishable,” the official said.
He said the simple reason why texting is more deadly than talking is because texting while driving leads to increased distraction behind the wheels and with the modern smart phones, the fatal accidents are closer to the driver.
“The risk of crashing while texting increases by 23 times, because reading or sending a text diverts the driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds which can be compared with the act of driving the length of a football field, blind, at 120 km per hour,” he added.
Globally, texting while driving in some places has been outlawed or restricted.
The Governors Highway Safety Association says it has been banned in 39 states in the US and in the District of Columbia. Texas does not have a statewide ban on texting while driving. However texting while driving is banned in some municipalities and school zones in the state.
A simulation study at the Monash University Accident Research Centre gives strong evidence that retrieving and, in particular, sending text messages has a detrimental effect on a number of safety-critical driving measures.
Specifically, negative effects were seen in detecting and responding correctly to road signs, detecting hazards, time spent with eyes off the road, and (only for sending text messages) lateral position.
Mean speed, speed variability, lateral position when receiving text messages, and following distance showed no difference.
Another simulation study at the University of Utah has found a six-fold increase in distraction-related accidents when texting.
“These are facts and figures from across the world and we need to take responsibility of our actions on the road. A continuous education programme, traffic lessons in the schools, awareness campaigns can help in this regard with the help of media”.

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Road accident victim gets 37 lakh in damages

NEW DELHI: A Motor Accident Claims Tribunal has awarded a compensation of Rs 36.98 lakh to a 40-year-old man, who suffered 90% permanent disability in a road mishap involving a rashly-driven car.

The tribunal directed ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company Limited, with which the offending vehicle was insured, to pay Rs 36,98,911 to city resident Manjeet Singh.
As per the FIR and chargesheet, the driver was drunk while driving the vehicle. The documents of criminal case which have been placed on record are prima facie evidence of the fact that Singh suffered injuries on account of rash and negligent driving of the offending vehicle by the driver, MACT presiding officer Harish Dudani said.

Singh told the tribunal that the accident had taken place on the night of July 1, 2009 when a Santro car had hit him as he was crossing a road near Dhaula Kuan. He added that due to the impact he sustained grievous injuries and had to be rushed to a nearby hospital.

He said he was rendered paralysed from below the waist, has lost control of his bowel movements and is incapable of working.

Singh also told the tribunal that he was working as a senior programmer with a company here and was earning a salary of Rs 15,570 per month. The driver and owner of the car, Shaleen Bhatnagar and Mani Padma respectively, contented before the tribunal that the accident had taken place as Singh was negligent and careless towards traffic rules.

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Wayward halting of buses creates chaoson roads

PUNE: One of the many reasons for road traffic problems in the city is that the PMPML bus drivers do not halt the vehicles close to the bus stops. This blocks the carriageway and halts vehicular traffic. Citizens and bus commuters’ groups have highlighted the need for building proper bus bays, or painting yellow boxes for buses to halt.

Pedestrians First, an NGO working on pedestrian and road safety issues, has urged both the Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad municipal corporations to provide bus bays for smooth movement of traffic.
Prashant Inamdar, convenor of Pedestrians First, said a major problem faced by bus drivers and bus commuters is that buses are unable to approach the bus stop and are forced to halt on the carriageway. Road side clutter, encroachments, and vehicles parking right up to the bus stop create severe for all road users. Commuters have to stand on the road to be able to see approaching bus, and have to board the bus in the midst of traffic with great inconvenience and also facing a risk to life. Many a times, bus drivers skip the bus stop, he said.

Inamdar, who was instrumental in helping the PMC and the traffic authorities in creating a bus bay at the bus stop near Ranade Institute on Fergusson College Road, said the experiment was successful only for a few months. This was because temporary barricades had been used at the bus bay. “Putting traffic barricades for the purpose cannot be sustained for a longer period. The bus bay is not effectively operational anymore and the gains made have now been lost,” he said.

The municipal corporations should make it a policy to provide properly designed bus bays which should have road markings with arrows and sign boards. Provision should also be made for sturdy bollards with crossbars or metal railings of suitable design before and after bus stop, up to 20 metres on entry side and 15 metres on exit side, to prevent vehicle parking. Major bus stops should be covered in the fist phase, Inamdar added.

PMP Pravasi Sangh members Jugal Rathi and Vivek Velankar said the work of creating bus bays has been pending for many years. “Creation of bus bays is the most effective solution for the safety of bus commuters with minimum cost, efforts and time. It will also be convenient for bus drivers, and for the police to take action against encroachments or obstructions. It will ensure better traffic discipline and safety,” Rathi said.

Civic authorities said they will act on the suggestions given by the organizations and the traffic police.

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Telugu actor Bharath dies in a Road Accident

Telugu actor Bharath alias Yasho Sagar, whose debut film Ullasanga Utsahanga was a blockbuster, died in a road accident near Tumkur in Karnataka in the wee hours today.

Besides Sagar, in his mid 20s, his assistant Vishvanath Reddy was also killed and another person injured when their car rammed into a bridge near Tumkur, about 100 km from here, District SP T R Suresh told PTI.

The condition of the injured, admitted to a Tumkur hospital, was critical, he said.

Sagar was on his way to Bangalore from Pune when the accident took place around 6.30 am, Suresh said. Reddy was driving the car.

A native of Bangalore, Sagar made his debut in Telugu film Ullasanga Utsahanga which was a major hit in 2008. Sagar’s father B P Somu is a producer in Kannada films.

The young star had also acted in Kannada flick Mr Premikudu which was produced by his father.

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