//Rise in accidents involving goods vehicles

Rise in accidents involving goods vehicles

The Hindu / Jan 09, 2006 / Call for stern measures to curb accidents // THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Rash and negligent driving, overloading, lack of awareness among drivers about safety precautions to be followed while transporting of goods and lack of enforcement from the law-enforcing agencies have resulted in an uptrend in accidents involving goods vehicles. The death of 10 passengers of a KSRTC bus recently in an accident involving a tipper lorry near Changanassery and several accidents in other districts show the gravity of the problem and calls for stern measures from the law-enforcing authorities. Accidents involving passenger and goods vehicles are on the increase. About 3,700 accidents involving goods vehicles are being registered a year. As many as 2.12 lakh goods vehicles of various capacity ranging from one tonne to 20 tonnes ply on the roads. The construction boom has led to a significant increase in goods movement such as cement, steel and sand. The construction industry goes for heavier and bigger size vehicles to generate profit from the business. These vehicles do not “jell well” with passenger transport vehicles in narrow and congested roads. Kerala has a higher per capita availability of goods vehicles as compared to other States. Chief Project Coordinator of National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (Natpac), Mahesh Chand, says the safety record of goods vehicles is poor. An analysis of the traffic data shows that maximum number of goods vehicle collisions is with passenger vehicles. Actual collisions of two goods vehicles are quite low, which shows incompatibility of goods and passenger traffic. Central districts are found to have higher values for most of the goods vehicle accident indicators. Idukki, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Pathanamthitta districts have exhibited the characteristics of unsafe goods transport system, as almost all the indicators have very high value. A high percentage of goods vehicle accidents are “side swipe” caused due to insufficient road width. Moreover, goods vehicles ply without frequent stops and tend to have higher speed than stage carriers. Overloading and lack of safety precautions in transporting materials are the other reasons for accidents. Drivers of goods vehicles are found to suffer from lack of sleep and exposed to higher occupational hazards. Long working hours and hard work often reduce their reflex action and they tend to be aggressive drivers as happened in Changanassery. The Natpac official says the centre of gravity of tipper lorries is very high and the momentum is also very high due to high mass. This increases the severity of accidents in which tipper lorries are involved. As the platform of the tipper is higher than that of the bus, passengers in the bus are likely to be killed in case of “swipe accidents.” Following the spate of accidents involving tipper lorries in the capital, the traffic police had issued notice to all owners of the vehicles that they will also be made co-accused in case of an accident. “This step has helped the police in a big way as the over-speeding of the tipper lorries has come down. Moreover, no accident involving tippers had been reported after the notices were served,” says M. Radhakrishnan Nair, CI (Traffic, North). Dr. Chand says the drivers of heavy vehicles need to be trained on various aspects such as safe ways of overtaking and turning