In the beginning of next year, groups of young schoolchildren will be spotted along highways across the state urging motorists to not drink and drive. These children have been roped in by the traffic police as ambassadors to spread the road safety message during ‘Road Safety Fortnight’, which begins on January 1. The schoolchildren will also take out rallies, distribute pamphlets, wave banners as part of the scheduled programmes in the fortnight.
With road accident deaths showing an upward trend this year compared to last year, the government has embarked upon an awareness campaign, which will be bigger and longer than those in previous years.
“It will not be a symbolic or routine affair this year. We are going to convey the message loud and clear through a string of efforts that road safety tops the priority list of the government’s action plan for next year,” additional director general of police, highway police, Arup Patnaik told HT, explaining why “Road Safety Week” was extended to a fortnight this year.
The decision to extend the week was taken at a high-level meting at the Mantralaya, on Wednesday, which was chaired by home minister RR Patil.
The seriousness of the government can be gauged from the fact that while in the previous years only the traffic police was involved in the execution of road safety week, this year every agency concerned with roads as well as motorists have been roped in to find ways and means of reducing accidents.
The other agencies involved include the RTO, MSRTC, MMRDA and IRB (infrastructure developers). Interestingly, the health department, too, has been included in the brainstorming session in order to find ways to provide medical aid to accident victims in the quickest possible time.
“All suggestions will be analysed before they are submitted for execution,” said S Shekhar, superintendent of police, highway police. Shekhar said the highway police had engaged manpower from the traffic police in districts and commissionerates across the state for the enforcement of traffic rules and educational programmes during the fortnight.
Apart from strict enforcement of traffic rules, traffic police would be conducting health camps for drivers in order to check their eyesight and other health parameters. Along with this, seminars, debates, essay competitions and discussions will be organised at schools and colleges on road safety.
The traffic police will seek the help of cable TV networks, FM radio channels and theatres/multiplexes to publicise the fortnight and road safety tips, Patnaik added.