New data adds 22K more fatalities on TN roads since 2017 – DTNEXT

CHENNAI: After winning the award for the best-performing State in terms of road safety in 2018 and 2019, the reconciliation of the data on road accidents during 2017-2020 period has found 22,018 additional fatalities in the four years.
The year 2020 alone witnessed an 80 per cent increase in fatalities than the earlier given data.
“There were some data errors. We have reconciled the data for 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. We have corrected it and there is a significant jump in the numbers,” said police sources.
According to the reconciled data, the number of fatalities in 2017 has increased from 16,157 to 17,926. In 2018, the fatalities rose by 50 per cent from 12,216 to 18,394, while in 2019 it went up by 72 per cent from 10,525 to 18,129. In 2020, when a severe lockdown was in force, the State initially claimed road accident fatalities of 8,060 which now counts 14,527, an increase of 80 per cent.
The total number of fatal road accidents has increased in the range of 12 to 83 per cent in the four years post data reconciliation.
When asked why the reconciliation of data was taken up, the police sources said it was a routine excise. “We always check data for variations,” sources said, adding it took a long time since it is a four-year data. “We have to check case by case,” the sources said. It added they have communicated the reconciled data to the State government and the National Crime Record Bureau as well.
The new data has now put the State in a spot as it had won two national level awards and World Bank accolades for drastically reducing road fatalities.
Tamil Nadu, which has a dubious distinction of recording the highest number of road accidents in the country, had managed to reduce the fatalities by 24 per cent in 2018 and 13 per cent in 2019. For the highest percentage of reduction of fatalities in 2018 and 2019, Tamil Nadu was adjudged the best-performing State in terms of road safety for two successive years.
In 2020, when the road accident fatalities came down to 8,060, the pre-reconciled number, the State claimed to have achieved the millennium goal — to reduce accidents by 50 per cent by 2025.
A senior official of the Transport Department said he was not sure about the status of the two national awards. “We have to check,” the official said.
Task force on road safety identifies 3,500 blackspots
As the first step to provide road engineering and enforcement solutions to reduce accident fatalities, the Special Task Force on Road Safety (STF-RS) has identified about 3,500 blackspots in Tamil Nadu.
These areas were identified by five-member teams formed at the police station-level.
According to the sources in the task force, the work on the identification of the blackspots is ongoing and is expected to be completed in a week.
For identification of blackspots, the task force had formed a team at every police station, each comprising a head constable or special sub-inspector, road inspector from the Highways Department, a representative from the 108 ambulance service, a revenue official (either VAO or ward official) and the Civil Engineering department from the local engineering college.
“We developed a mobile application to upload the photo and design. The team have to identify the engineering and enforcement solution to each blackspot. The enforcement solution would be implemented by the police while the road engineering part will be addressed by the concerned road-owning department,” the official added.
To bring down accidents, the STF-RS has also taken up a massive task of making 2,800 junctions on highways, which account for 20 per cent of accident fatalities, compliant with the Indian Road Congress (IRC) standards, including necessary road safety features.
“Tamil Nadu has the highest number of junctions in the country. IRC has stipulated certain road safety features at junctions, which, however, are missing,” sources said.
For instance, there have to be slow down measures like transverse marking at certain distances while approaching the junctions with a line of sight.
“All these features are missing,” the official said.
Also, when the traffic merges at a junction, it should not merge at a 90-degree angle. “The road design should ensure that the angle of merger should be less than five degrees,” sources said, adding that they are trying to bring back basic road engineering into focus.
Citing the example of the Ulundurpet to Thalivasal stretch of the two-lane National Highway which has been witnessing head-on collisions frequently, the official said the district Collector has installed plastic bollard on the 10-km stretch to prevent vehicles from overtaking which helped reduce the accident fatalities.
“It is a short-term solution that worked,” he added.
Five-member teams formed at police station- level; members are from police, Highways, 108 ambulance service, VAO or ward official, Civil Engineering faculty from engineering college.
Tamil Nadu has the highest number of junctions in the country.
2,800 junctions on highways account for 20% of accident fatalities.
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