Friday, February 3, 2012

Road Safety Karachi- 2009

Road Safety Karachi-2009

By

Asad Jahangir Khan

The Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Center has taken a valuable initiative by establishing a Road Traffic Injury Research Center. This has the financial backing of Indus Motors and is being run by the staff and students of the NED University. The Aga Khan University Hospital is also closely associated in this project especially in the study of trauma related services.

The project strategy is to collect data from five major hospitals that deal with road injury cases. Thirty five research assistants collect the data which is then compiled and analyzed in the center located in JPMC. Data shows that 34.00% of all injured road users were transported to hospitals by ambulance whereas in 2008 only 14.39% were carried by ambulances. Although this shows a big improvement in ambulance service, there is still an urgent need to improve trauma related ambulance service.

Road injury data collected by RTIRC gives us a picture which is very different from the data available with the Police. The police get information of injury accidents from the hospitals and investigate the case after registering an FIR. The registration requires a complainant and subsequent legal procedures. Therefore, the number of cases registered is merely a fraction of the actual number of road injury cases brought to the hospitals.

During the year 2009 RTIRC recorded data relating to 29763 persons injured in traffic accidents in Karachi. This gives an average of 2588 road injury cases every month. In addition 1288 fatalities were also recorded during the year at a monthly average of 107.

In contrast the Karachi police registered cases of only 764 injury and 593 fatalities for the entire year of 2009.This means that 28,999 road users injured and 695 road users killed were not brought into the purview of the law and were deprived of third party insurance claims which is a mandatory requirement of the Motor Vehicle Ordinance, 1965.

There is, therefore, an urgent need for police to change its present policy of dealing with rash and negligent driving resulting in death and injury under the Penal Code. The Motor Vehicle Ordinance is a special law and it would be much more beneficial for road accident victims if road accidents were dealt under this law instead of the Penal Code.

Violations under the MVO are dealt by Summary Procedure whereas Penal Code violations are substantive violations requiring a time consuming legal procedure. One study shows that it takes at least 30 months for a Penal Code violation to be decided in court. For these two reasons there is a need to empower traffic police to deal with accident cases in accordance with the provisions contained in the Motor Vehicle Ordinance.

ROAD USER GROUP

Minor Serious Fatal Total

Rider/Pillion Rider 13638 (60%) 3023 (51%) 434 (35%) 17095 (57%)

Pedestrian 5315 (23%) 1819 (31%) 540 (43%) 7674 (26%)

Passenger 2897 (13%) 790 (13%) 195 (16%) 3882 (13%)

Drivers 704 (3%) 227 (4%) 51 (4%) 982 (3%)

Unknown 131 (1%) 61 (1%) 68 (2%) 216 (1%)

Total 22685 (100%) 5920 (100%) 1288 (100%) 29849 (100%)

An analysis of road users involved in minor injury accidents shows that 60.0% (13638) were riders, 23.0% (5315) were pedestrians, 13.0% (2897) were passengers and 3.0%(704) were drivers.

In serious injury accidents, the involvement of riders was 23 %( 3023), pedestrians 31 %( 1819), passengers 13 %( 790) and drivers 4 %( 227).

In fatal accidents 35 %( 434) were riders, 43% (540) were pedestrians, 16% (195) were passengers and 4% (51) were drivers.

In the year 2008, riders were involved in 60 %( 19595) injury accidents and in 37 %( 441) fatal accidents. The pedestrians were involved in 22 %( 7168) injury accidents and in 39 %( 457) fatal accidents.

The above analysis shows that the most vulnerable road user groups on the roads of Karachi are riders and pedestrians. The severity index shows that a pedestrian accident is more likely to be fatal. Riders were involved in 54% (16661) of the injury accidents and in 35% (434) fatal accidents, while pedestrian involvement in injury accidents was 23 %( 7134) and 43% (540) in fatal accidents. Looking at it in another way, 7% of the pedestrians involved in accidents were killed whereas only 2.5% of the riders involved in accidents were killed.

The traffic managers, therefore, need to focus on these two most vulnerable groups. The pedestrians require good footpaths and safe road crossing facilities to save them from death and injury. Road safety strategies for pedestrians should take into account the fact that 457 pedestrians were killed in 2008 whereas 540 were killed in 2009. The increase in fatal pedestrian accidents is quite alarming.

There is also a need to make bus (including mini-bus) and other heavy vehicles safer for pedestrians. The front part of these vehicles should be soft and steel bumpers or steel additions need to be removed. The bus and truck bumpers are too high up in the body. Its impact with the pedestrian is focused on the lower hip. The body should be so fabricated that it impacts the whole body and throws the pedestrian away from the vehicle. Otherwise the pedestrian is pulled under the vehicle with disastrous consequences.

As far as riders are concerned, the large number of injury accidents reveals that riding skills are poor as most of these are due to slippage and skids. Riders are also not visible to drivers of vehicles especially heavy vehicles in the traffic stream.

There is a need to improve the riding skills of riders through a public effort of encouraging off-road riding sports. There is also a need to improve driving tests for riders. The rider’s driving test should be in three parts. The first part should be a rules test. The second part should be a road test and the third part should be off-road riding skills test.

According to age (see chart below) riders in the age group 16 to 40 are the most vulnerable. 584 riders involved in injury accidents were under 15. Riders between the age group 21 to 25 were the most prone to injury accident (3266) followed by riders in the age group 16-20 (2525). This shows lack of driving skills and experience.


The analysis further reveals that only 4% of the riders who were injured were wearing a helmet. Accident statistics reveal that 86% of the fatalities amongst riders were caused by head injury. This means that 373 out of 434 riders, who were killed in road accidents in 2009, died of head injury. Helmet use would have prevented those deaths.

There is a strong case for reducing the driving license eligibility age for riders from 18 to 16. Injury statistics shown above reveal a very large percentage of riders under 18. Lowering the age for obtaining a motor cycle license would bring the youth into the fold of law and make them law abiding.

However, the most effective measure for preventing rider deaths is to make sure that all riders including pillion riders wear a helmet. In 2007, only 9% of the riders were wearing a helmet, in 2008 compliance to helmet law fell by 1%. In 2009 only 4% of the riders complied with the helmet law. The police have failed to enforce this law mainly because of lack of public support. It is time that the public stand behind the police to make sure that riders wear helmet. In doing this the public would help save hundreds of lives that are lost every year.

There is also a case for making it mandatory for motor cycle lights to be switched on while plying on roads. This is compulsory in all countries where road safety is good and they have found that this measure saves lives.

Compliance with law is generally poor amongst road users. We have already seen that riders (including pillion riders) do not wear a helmet. Drivers also do not put on seat belts. Only 3% of the injured drivers had seat belts on.


A study of the location of accident reveals that 38% (16% in2008) occurred at intersections and 62 % (84% in 2008) occurred at mid-block. Accidents at intersections are very high. It could be because intersections are not signalized. Those intersections that are signalized are either switched off or affected by load shedding. There is a strong case for signalizing intersections and, considering the blackouts which are a common feature, there is also a case for providing a system of uninterrupted power supply. There is also a need for traffic engineers to take a closer look at intersection designs to improve road safety.

Moreover, riders and pedestrians are the most vulnerable and they are mostly involved at both locations. While rider can be blamed for poor skills and failing to comply with rules, the pedestrian is a victim of civic neglect as pedestrian facilities are few and far between.


Only 13% of the casualties were female which is up from 10% in 2008. This shows the frequency of women on the streets of Karachi.

A survey of cause analysis reveals that 83.0% of all accidents were the result of road user fault, 13.93% were the result of road fault and 3.07% were a result of vehicle fault. Road fault percentage is very high and there is a case for improving road conditions to reduce accidents.

Monthly variation in casualties can be seen below:

Months

Frequency

Percent

January

2158

7

February

2297

7

March

2779

9

April

2610

8

May

2481

8

June

2552

8

July

2250

7

August

2908

9

September

3252

10

October

2853

9

November

2560

8

December

2351

8

Total

31051

100





























August, September and October show the highest number of casualties. But the variation is minimal for all months.



Casualties are mainly pedestrians and riders. They are vulnerable at all times. More traffic results in more casualties. The city wakes up slowly as indicated by the dawn casualties.

Casualties by age can be seen in the chart below:-

Casualties Age Wise

Road User

Rider

%

Pillion Rider

%

Pedestrian

%

Passenger

%

Driver

%

<15

584

5

1320

31

2082

27

580

15

6

1

16-20

2525

20

641

14

714

9

604

16

75

8

21-25

3266

25

628

15

759

10

728

19

211

21

26-30

2337

18

495

12

690

9

584

15

217

22

31-35

1351

11

334

8

508

7

377

10

147

15

36-40

1058

8

259

6

519

7

323

8

124

13

41-45

713

6

193

5

464

6

222

6

73

7

46-50

447

3

167

4

532

7

178

5

53

5

51-55

211

2

85

2

321

4

85

2

30

3

56-60

176

1

71

2

480

6

112

3

28

3

>61

85

1

77

2

558

7

68

2

12

1

Unknown

59

0

13

0

47

1

21

1

6

1

Total

12812

100

4283

100

7674

1000

3882

100

982

100

Pedestrians and riders being the most vulnerable road user group involved in road accidents are the most threatened during peak hours of traffic. This shows that the most vulnerable age group involved in fatal accidents is between 21 and 35. This group is also the most productive in the economy of the city. Therefore, it is high time that the city government should pay more attention to providing a road and traffic environment which is safe. There is also a case for expediting a mass transit system. The most productive age group is also the one which is riding a motor bike. The high percentage of rider involvement in road accidents clearly spells out the need for this road user group to benefit from a mass transit system which, even current figures relating to passenger injuries show, is far safer than riding a bike.

There is a also a dire need for improving law enforcement. This is only possible if the Motorway Police model is adopted by the police for traffic law enforcement.

No comments: