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HT Spotlight | Amritsar, Ludhiana death traps: Tread at your own risk

Be extra cautious when you drive or walk on roads in Ludhiana and Amritsar. Chances of getting killed in a crash are higher in these two cities, as per a report released by the ministry of road transport and highways.

punjab Updated: Sep 11, 2017 09:59 IST
Tarsem Singh Deogan and Anil Sharma
Tarsem Singh Deogan and Anil Sharma
Hindustan Times, Ludhiana/Amritsar
ministry of road transport and highways,highest road accident severity,Ludhiana
A car that overturned after hitting a tractor from the rear at Manawala village, 8km from Amritsar on June 12, 2016. According to the data compiled by the transport research wing of the Union road transport and highways ministry, as many as 102 persons were killed in 152 accidents in the city last year. (HT File)

Be extra cautious when you drive or walk on roads in Ludhiana and Amritsar. Chances of getting killed in a crash are higher in these two cities, as per a report released by the ministry of road transport and highways. Reason: Ludhiana and Amritsar have the highest road accident severity (in simpler words, number of persons killed in 100 accidents) in the country. HT reporters look at what makes the roads in two cities so deadly:

Ludhiana’s nightmare: Speeding, drunk driving

In an embarrassment to Ludhiana police, the city has once again got the dubious record of topping all major cities in the country when it comes to road fatalities.

According to Road Accidents Report for 2016, prepared by the Union ministry of road transport and highways, Ludhiana is at number one position in severity of accidents with a fatality rate of 69.9% followed by Amritsar with 67.1%.

Ludhiana, known as the region’s business hub, witnessed 549 road mishaps last year with 384 people losing their lives and another 313 suffering injuries. This year, 157 people have lost their lives in road mishaps in first seven months, from January 1 to July 31.

A study conducted by traffic police officials blames overspeeding and drunk driving – in this order – for a sizeable number of fatal accidents in the city. They had identified 45 “black points” in the city to deal with the problem of high rate of fatal accidents, but it ended there. No efforts were made to tackle the problem at these accident-prone spots and bring discipline on the city roads.

Dr Kamal Soi, member of National Road Safety Council, said the law has failed to be a deterrent as there is no fear among the people of being caught or reprimanded. The police have failed to implement the traffic rules effectively and keep issuing challans for not wearing a helmet and seatbelts, but they have failed to crack down on drunk driving and overspeeding, the two main reasons behind road mishaps.

However, Sukhpal Brar, additional deputy commissioner of police (ADCP), traffic, said most of the fatal road accidents had taken place on highways, and not on city roads.

“On inner roads of the city, two-wheeler riders not wearing helmet are at risk. The police are issuing challans daily and trying to minimise the mishaps,” he claimed.

Amritsar: 26 dark spots and all neglected

This is not the first time the city has figured among the fatal accident-prone places in the country, but nothing seems to have changed.

‘I lost my husband to a fatal crash’
  • Last winter, Ravneet Kaur of Makboolpura was riding with her husband, Harjit Singh, on a motorcycle. They were going to the Golden Temple to pay obeisance when a speeding car rammed into the bike from the front near Ram Talai Chowk. “We fell on the road. I got injuries on my leg, but my husband sustained head injuries. Some passersby rushed us to Guru Nanak Dev Hospital where my husband succumbed to his injures. I lost my husband because of lack of traffic disorder,” said a teary-eyed Ravneet.

Amritsar has the second highest road accident severity, as 102 persons were killed in 152 accidents, according to data compiled by the transport research wing of the Union road transport and highways ministry for 2016.

Rakesh Gupta of Ludhiana showing a photo of his brother and his family, who were killed in an accident on October 18, 2016. A total of 549 accidents were reported in the city last year killing 384 people. (HT File )

After the report came out, Hindustan Times did a reality check and found that the city residents continue to violate traffic rules with impunity, putting their and others’ lives in danger. The traffic police have also done little to ensure discipline on the city roads.

They had marked 26 accident-prone areas in the city, including Maqboolpura Chowk, Sangam Chowk, Hussanpura Chowk, Bhandari Pul, Lohgarh Chowk, Sultanwind Gate Chowk, Ghee Mandi Chowk and Chita Gumbad, but they continue to be neglected.

The police have been busy in taking action against those two-wheeler riders who have their faces covered, turning a blind eye to more serious traffic violations such as helmet-less driving, jumping tariff signals, rash driving, speeding and mobile phone use while driving. Traffic police inspector Amolak Singh, in-charge of Amritsar city, blamed helmet-less driving and lack of awareness about traffic rules among the people for most fatal accidents. “People do not want to listen despite warning and do not want to obey. We have been organising special camps in schools, colleges and taxi stands to make students and drivers aware of traffic rules. If two-wheeler riders start wearing helmet, things will improve because most of the accident-related deaths occur due to head injuries,” he said.

However, Guru Nanak Dev Hospital (GNDH) authorities, where the injured in most accidents are taken, said speeding, rash driving and drunk driving were the prime causes of fatal accidents. The hospital does not have a neurosurgeon and forced to refer patients with head injuries to PGIMER, Chandigarh. There are two private hospitals with trauma centres and facilities to treat head injuries in accident cases, but they are beyond the reach of the poor.

First Published: Sep 11, 2017 09:59 IST