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Road accidents, deaths and regulations

24 April 2013 06:30 pm - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Who’s to blame?

The recent shocking revelation that 627 persons were killed due to fatal accidents in the first three months of this year has opened up the debate on whether Sri Lankan roads are able to sustain rapid development and a heavy load of vehicular traffic.

Statistics reveal that nearly five persons lose their lives due to injuries sustained, owing to a road accident, and it was noted that these accidents mostly involved motorbikes, trishaws and buses.

Although there is a significant drop in vehicle imports, the number of accidents and  deaths are reported in higher numbers each year. Amidst existing restrictions and police surveillance, traffic control authorities are calling for the need to increase speed limits. However can motorists be burdened with the sole blame for causing accidents?

Some opine that negligence and drunken driving cause accidents, however  statistics prove them wrong. Figures show that a significant number of accidents take place due to the poor condition of vehicles and the potholes, ad hock construction and pitiable maintenance of the roads.

It was also found that often in the aftermath of an accident that the victims did not posses a driving license and while on several occasions the driver of a motor vehicle managed to escape, the victims were often helpless school children, elderly persons or young couples.

In the renewed debate on whether our road system is able to continue on the path of rapid development, a number of authorities need to be held accountable; the Daily Mirror asked responsible authorities to voice their opinion on the matter.


Attitude of the driver is a key element

Dr. Sivakumar
When you look at an accident it brings in three factors, they are the people, vehicle and the road environment. These three factors are interconnected. Attitude of the driver is another key element, Head of Logistics and Transport Management Department (Moratuwa University) - Dr. T. Sivakumar said.
Loss of life is analyzed in a way that it is a loss of personal opportunity, loss to the family, loss to his employer and loss to the country. That is the economical loss that the country has to face.
It is the middle and the lower class that is directly and indirectly affected by accidents as they fall victims most of the time as they use formal and informal methods of transportation.
People are not educated well on how to drive a good vehicle, also they do not have any idea whether the vehicle is  road worthy.
When you drive at a speed you cant stop it, to stop you need to have distance or a gap. Therefore the driver needs to have a better understanding to maintain that required gap.
Another key question is whether we are ready for the speed and we have to look into that as well along with maintaining the road, checking the condition of the vehicle. Drivers are also not concerned about sign boards, they don’t value it.
The fundamental knowledge should be there when they have a driving license, but that is not happening. It should happen from the day the driving licence is issued to a person.
While it is clear that several mechanisms are in place to control road traffic and prevent road accidents a better system would be required to ensure proper coordination and efficiency of the respective traffic controlling process implemented by the authorities.
 



imports had sharply dropped last year due to an increase in duties

Mali Piyasena
The number of vehicle imports had sharply dropped last year due to an increase in duties imposed on motor vehicles but the gap still remain narrow due to the continued issuing of duty concessions and permits given to government officials, Customs Director Mali Piyasena said.
Due to strict restrictions imposed on the importation of old vehicles most imported motor vehicles are less than two years old. Therefore the condition of an imported vehicle has no direct impact on road accidents.
Piyasena said that the importation of used vehicles such as hybrid cars, vans and trucks had increased early this year but that there was no issue with the condition of the vehicles.



Speeding is one of the major causes- Police Traffic Administration and Road Safety Division

The police say that it has had consultations with all road traffic controlling stakeholders and law enforcement agencies to minimise the number of accidents that take place every year.
Fatal accidents have significantly increased, however the number of deaths have reduced.
Contrary to popular belief an increased number of traffic police officers would not minimise road accidents, it is solely up to the motorist to ensure their safety and avoid breaking road traffic laws. According to the traffic police the main reasons for fatal accidents are recklessness, exhaustion, driving under the influence of alcohol, disobeying traffic signals and failing to use a zebra crossing which was one of the primary reasons that pedestrians were knocked down by vehicles.   Speeding is one of the major causes. The gazette No 1763/26 issued on 2012/06/22 says that the speed limit within city limits is 56kmph. The driver should know to asses his speed and control the vehicle. They said that lack of maintenance of the vehicle is another problem.  Police noted that even though many awareness programmes were conducted, there is a significant increase in the number of road accidents each year.  
The Division said that demonstrations are carried out by traffic police at schools to create awareness among school children. We have conducted programmes to educate bus drivers as well.



Most accidents take place due to the negligence of the  pedestrian

Gamini Ekanayake
The National Council for Road Safety provides compensation for hit and run accidents; Rs.100,000 in the case of death and Rs.75,000 in the event of a fatal accident.
The council constitutes the membership of 17 institutions including the RDA, Railways Department, Motor Traffic Department, Board of Insurance, Sri Lanka Transport Board, Education Ministry, Ministry of Local Government and Provincial Councils which are responsible for providing each institution the support required to implement the respective action plans needed to ensure road safety.
“Our collective goal is to prevent road crashes. It is a huge responsibility and not one that the police can do on its own,” Council’s Chairman Gamini Ekanayake says. The council has a number of projects in the pipeline to curb road accidents such as a school-based initiative called the Raising Hand Project, where students would be taught road rules of which the first lesson would be on the importance of lifting a hand to indicate the desire to cross a street.
“Most accidents take place due to the negligence of the pedestrian and it is becoming a growing concern. We have to create a new generation that is more conscious of the need to obey road rules and this may save hundreds of lives.”
Another project by the council is the Provincial Road Safety Units which have so far been introduced in the Western, Southern and Central provinces where a traffic police officer is assigned in each district to monitor the movement of traffic, accidents and complaints.
These units report directly to the council to determine ways to further improve traffic control systems and prevent road accidents.
 



striking a balance between accessibility and mobility of highways is a challenge-RDA
 

The Road Development Authority (RDA) is responsible for the maintenance and development of highways in the country and for ensuring that road networks in urban and rural areas are safe and in usable condition for motor vehicles and pedestrians. According to RDA experts the RDA utilises specified standards to design highways.
Vertical and horizontal curves on road bends, side distance which is space required to press the breaks of the motor vehicle when driving and super elevation are some of the  technical requirements that are vital to measure, design and built highways according to which highway speed limits are determined. However striking a balance between accessibility and mobility of highways is a challenge. This is due to the reason that existing land space for building road networks is becoming scarcer due to an increase in population which has led to the expansion of towns and urbanisation which leads to insufficient land space for development of highways. Moreover, RDA experts say that controlling and monitoring the speed habits of motor vehicle drivers is yet another difficult task.
During an RDA accident analysis road accidents are usually referred to as black spots which often occur in very sharp or narrow bends, where there is super elevation or poor lighting, especially in the night. Black spots are also quite frequent where there is no walkway for pedestrians.
The tendency for road accidents was also extremely high where a variety of vehicles such as motor cycles, tractors, lorries were on the same traffic corridor.
 



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  • janaka Thursday, 25 April 2013 01:08 AM

    Drivers on the roads who have got license with bribe is the problem and no policing?


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