In a significant order passed recently, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court observed that it was high time the stakeholders had a rethink on fixing the blame on drivers of big vehicles in road accidents involving big and small vehicles. The court said that despite penal laws and awareness programmes, people had not changed.
The court said that every road user owes a duty of care and caution and was duty-bound to drive his vehicle in such a way not to endanger themselves and more importantly pedestrians, cyclists, two-wheeler riders and other vehicle users. There was a need for a campaign to enlighten public on rules and penalties, say advocates and RTO Officials.
The court had pointed out that as per statistics available for the past two years, in 2018, India ranked first in road accidents among 199 countries. There were 4.67 lakh accidents – those involving two-wheelers alone accounted for 35.2%, the highest in all categories of vehicles. It is pertinent to note that in India, Tamil Nadu stood first in the number of accidents. In 2019, there were 4.37 lakh accidents – 38% involving two-wheelers.
“One of the best ways to create awareness is to put up signboards at key junctions. Information on rules and penalties are on display at Regional Transport Offices. If they are also displayed at prime spots, they will better serve the purpose,” said advocate S. Srinivasa Raghavan. Corporates could sponsor the signboards through their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative, he said.
Concurring with his suggestion, an official of the Regional Transport Office said signboards could be placed at bus stands, railway stations, airports and other public places to create awareness of the traffic rules among the public in a more effective way.
Signal jumping, drunk driving, overspeeding, overloading, non-usage of helmets and seatbelts and using mobile phones while driving are the major traffic violations, the official said. “Speeding and overtaking on the wrong side are the major reasons for accidents,” he said.
While strict enforcement of rules will bring down traffic violations, people must start practising road safety precautions on their own volition. “There are many posts lying vacant in the RTOs, which makes it difficult to ensure strict enforcement of rules. Hence, placing boards on the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act at public places is the first step in creating awareness among the public,” he said.