CHANDIGARH: The Punjab assembly elections early this year had the whole government machinery on its toes and an indirect benefit of it for the general public was a considerable 9% dip in number of deaths in fatal accidents in January.
Data shows that though there has been a consistent rise in number of fatal accidents on the state's roads after the code of conduct came into effect on January 4, the numbers were less in all three months when compared to the previous year. The check on overspeeding due to barricades put up across Punjab, besides enforcement agencies keeping unauthorized flow of liquor under scanner resulted in more safety for commuters.
ADGP traffic M K Tiwari told TOI that it was an encouraging sign and traffic police would take effective steps to ensure that violations such as overspeeding and drunken driving are checked to ensure safety of commuters.
There were 343 deaths in January this year, compared to 374 in January 2016, a dip of 9.4%. After the polling on February 4, the difference in deaths was reduced to 4.9% (402 deaths in 2016 and 383 in 2017) and the gap with previous year further narrowed down further to 3.4% (422 in 2016 and 408 in 2017) in March, as by that time new government was sworn and election process was over.
Otherwise, the graph of deaths in road accidents in the state has constantly been spiraling up over the last three years (see box).
Punjab's traffic adviser Navdeep Asija said overspeeding and drunken driving were the key factors responsible for fatal accidents and intervention in form of police barricades every 30 kilometers and an eye on carrying unauthorized liquor resulted in a check on these violations. "The data can be taken as a pilot study and similar steps can be continued," he suggested.
Majority of the traffic on the core network of highways comprises two wheelers (40%) and cars (30%). Share of tractors in the total vehicle population of Punjab is 9%, but they are responsible for 20% road fatalities, same is the case of trucks and autorickshaws. These modes need special focus and mode-wise related strategies need to be prepared by the government.
Meanwhile, the Punjab government has decided to set up a 'Punjab Road Safety Authority' to study the causes of road accidents and deaths with a view to minimize the same through effective planning. The plan has been approved in the first cabinet meeting of the Congress government on March 19.