Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Drunk driving, human error behind most HP road accidents - The Times of India

Himachal Pradesh witnesses around 4,000 road accidents every year that kill over 1,000 and leaves 6,000 injured. While rash driving, overloading, untrained drivers and poor roads are among the factors that have led to the rise in fatal accidents, a majority (97.84 %) of them were due to drunk driving and human error.

In the last three years alone, 3,479 people have lost their lives in different road accidents. The state government, in the past, had announced taking concrete steps to curb road accidents, but the spurt in such mishaps belies their claim.

State transport minister Mahinder Singh had admitted during assembly session that 97.84 % of the accidents were due to drunk driving and human error. He had stated that only about 1.52 % accidents had occurred due to bad road conditions and 0.64 % owing to mechanical failure.

Monday's road accident at Bilaspur, in which 27 people were killed and 25 others injured, could have been averted had the driver of the bus applied his mind and ensured proper safety of the passengers and bus before alighting from the vehicle. He did not make any effort to ensure that the bus remains stationary on the steep road, which resulted in the vehicle rolling down a gorge.

The state government has identified over 500 accident-prone spots (black spots) to reduce accidents. But apart from these zones, which are along the national and state highways, overloaded buses being plied on link roads of the state are a major cause for concern.

Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee president Kaul Singh Thakur said, "It is unfortunate that thousands of people are losing their lives in road accidents. He said that bus drivers need to be educated about the minute precautions which they should take for the safety of passengers."

"Banning use of mobile phones and stereos only would not make any difference. Monday's accident has once again exposed the failure of the state government," he pointed out.

Many feel that failure to enforce traffic laws strictly is another reason behind the spiralling accident graph. While cops concentrate on main roads, link roads usually remain neglected due to which bus drivers keep on violating norms.

A day after the mishap in Bilaspur, the state government announced to spend Rs 60 crore on the improvement of 'black spots' along all major state roads and national highways, so as to ensure safety of the commuters. State PWD minister Gulab Singh said this while presiding over a meeting with senior officers of the department.

Gulab said Rs 25 crore is being spent during the current year, while Rs 35 crore would be spent during the next year on improvement of accident-prone zones. He said that target has been fixed to improve 170 'black spots' during the current financial year, out of which 92 of them have already been improved. He said 192 'black spots' would be improved during the next financial year.

Major road accidents this year:

August: Twenty-four people were killed and 29 injured in a bus accident when it fell into a 500-foot deep gorge near Chaila in Theog sub division. A private bus coming from Sharounta to Shimla met with an accident at Sanai village near Chaila on the Kotkhai-Theog road. In the same month, 38 people, including 22 women and nine children, were killed in Mandi district when an overcrowded truck skidded off the road and fell into a gorge.

April: About 10 passengers were killed and over two dozen injured when a private bus veered off the road and fell into a deep gorge in Chamba district of Himachal Pardesh in Koti village, about 22 km from Chamba town.

March: Thirty two members of a marriage party lost their lives when their mini-truck rolled down a 500-metre-deep gorge near Sherpur village, some 50 km from Chamba. The same month, a pick-up van carrying employees of a private company executing a hydropower project plunged into a gorge near Bharmour, 65 km from Chamba, killing nine people on the spot.

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