As speeding cars, two-wheelers, and even buses attempt to zip across the city’s ill-maintained roads, it is the pedestrian who falls by the wayside. Roads are increasingly becoming unsafe for the common man on the street, who in turn throw caution to the wind and flouts traffic and safety norms.
A recent survey by the Mumbai traffic police has revealed that nearly 57% of the victims of road accidents in 2012 were pedestrians.
“According to our survey, more than 1,900 people were killed in road accidents last year. About 57% of these were pedestrians, indicating that this is the most vulnerable group when it comes to road safety,” said Vivek Phansalkar, joint commissioner of police, traffic.
Jitendra Gupta, member of Citizen Transport Committee, attributed the high casualty rate to the population in Mumbai.
“If you look at other countries, most big cities are crowded but there are fewer people per square metre. In India, the motorist has the first right to the road. There is absolutely no regard for pedestrian safety in our country,” he said.
Gupta said the massive population coupled with lack of road sense in drivers as well as pedestrians further aggravates the situation.
“Besides, the infrastructure is underdeveloped. According to international norms, the width of a footpath has to be at least 30% of the road’s width. But that is not the case in Mumbai. Also, as most of the sidewalks are encroached, pedestrians have no option but to walk on the main road,” he added.
According to Nitin Dossa, vice-president, Western India Automobile Association, poorly maintained zebra crossings and the tendency amongst motorists to flout the norm of halting their cars before the line was another reason for the high casualty rate.
“People need to be more patient and there needs to be stricter enforcement of law. Pedestrians also need to ensure that they use the zebra crossings instead of jumping over dividers. It has to be an effort by the government, motorists and pedestrians,” said Dossa.
Allka Shah, member of a road safety advisory board to the Mumbai police, said a safety audit of the roads was
A detailed safety audit will identify the most vulnerable accident spots in the city and recommend measures to rectify them. The government can then work on improving pedestrian safety there, Shah said.
“The number of vehicles and accidents are on the rise. Add to this the fact that the traffic police are short-staffed. Unless we want to become a lawless city, Mumbaiites have to take responsibility, and follow traffic rules,” she added.