Rattled by the growing number of deaths in road accidents, the Uttar Pradesh government finally seems to be waking up to a widespread problem that has snuffed out thousands of lives. Officials say Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has taken personal interest in improving the road safety scenario and has ticked off the transport and the traffic departments.
What follow are a slew of measures aimed at bringing down the casualties and minimizing the number of accidents taking place in the state. A Road Safety Policy announced in September is now being followed up with stringent measures like banning fuel at petrol pumps for all those not wearing helmets or seat belts.
According to Transport and Road Safety Commissioner K. Ravindra Naik, in the first three months of 2014, some 1,200 people met with accidents while on two-wheelers. Of them, 594 died before medical intervention.
"Had they been wearing helmets, they probably would have been saved," said Naik.
According to the traffic directorate, between January and March, 7,031 road accidents took place in Uttar Pradesh, of which 1,206 were on state and national highways.
A total of 3,760 people died in these accidents and 5,107 were injured, some critically, losing limbs.
The road safety department has decided to crack the whip on routes where often bus and truck drivers park their vehicles while sipping tea.
"In most accidents, moving cars have hit stationary larger vehicles. Now we are trying to ensure that such errant drivers are taken to task," an official told IANS.
Under the new road safety policy, highway police stations will be set up every 30-40 km with instructions not to spare rash driving, speeding and flouting of traffic norms.
Official sources say the state would seek Rs.50 crore as loan from the World Bank to buy cranes, improve and maintain roads, and set up police stations on highways.
A road safety fund has been created. The government is also planning to publicize the road safety mechanism.
(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)