June 1, 2020

Alarming Rise in Road Traffic Accidents in Punjab

Islamabad — On average, 25 road traffic accidents take place every hour in Punjab province, according to data from Rescue 1122 emergency services from 2013 to 2017.

The data was provided in response to a Right to Information (RTI) request by Media for Transparency.

Jam Sajjad Hussain, the head of Rescue 1122’s public relations wing, said a majority of road traffic incidents reported to the Rescue 1122 involved motorcyclists.

Mr. Hussain said most of the time either bikers are not wearing helmets or breaking a traffic signal.

Also read: Rise in number of motorcycles increases concerns for road safety in Rawalpindi district

Punjab Traffic Police launched a campaign to educate citizens about road safety and traffic laws for better and smooth flow of traffic on roads. According to statistics available on the Punjab traffic police website, over 46,000 brochures were distributed among road users in March 2015. In addition, five TV programmes, two radio programmes, and road safety lectures were conducted in 305 educational institutions.

Inspector Asmat Sajjad, the additional deputy superintendent of City Traffic Police Rawalpindi, said that the education wing of traffic police runs weekly programmes on the FM 99 and FM 92.4 radio stations as well as Riphah International University’s campus radio FM 102.2.

He said these programmes tend to create awareness among the masses about the consequences of traffic violations and educate them about traffic laws.

However, according to the data, road traffic accidents in Punjab showed an annual increase of 5% in 2016 and an 11% increase in 2017.

The most number of traffic accidents were reported from Lahore.

Data showed 230,014 road traffic accidents were reported in Lahore in the five-year period from 2013 to 2017. This comes to around 126 accidents on average every day.

Mr. Hussain said that around 700 to 800 people are involved in traffic accidents all over Punjab on a daily basis. He said around 90% of the victims suffer minor medical injuries that only need first aid. The rest face serious injuries, he said.

“For minor injuries, we use moto-ambulance service to save time and send ambulances only in case of serious injuries,” said Mr. Hussain. “Our average response rate is less than seven minutes.”

Mr. Hussain said he believes that the actual problem lies in the hands of the law enforcement agencies who fail to implement the traffic laws and fair challan system.

Mr. Sajjad said that challan is not the solution for road traffic accidents.

“We receive thousands of traffic violation cases every day but challan is the last option,” he said. “At first, we issue warnings but if the driver continues to violate traffic laws, then we charge them accordingly.”

City Traffic Police Rawalpindi issued 59,344 challan tickets with fines of more than Rs. 24 million in February 2018, according to a news report. A total of 1,176 drivers were charged on creating hurdles in the smooth flow of traffic, 1,686 motorcyclists for breaking the signal, 5,383 motorcyclists for not wearing the helmet, and 2,016 drivers for using mobile phones while driving.

Mr. Sajjad said if road users do not take traffic laws seriously, then the challan system alone cannot contribute to decreasing the number of traffic accidents. He said that Rawalpindi traffic police aims to promote friendly police system and provide citizens good service in terms of a road system.

It is the responsibility of the citizens to realize the importance of their lives and the lives of fellow citizens, Mr. Sajjad said.

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