Monday, May 27, 2013

Road Safety Karachi 2012 Report




Mr. Asad Jahangir is a retired Inspector General of Police who has vast experience in traffic management and has contributed in its improvement in large urban centres as well as on the highways. His analysis and his recommendations if considered seriously can mitigate the daily deaths and losses on the roads of the country. The following report brings out certain serious gaps in the traffic management system in Karachi that can be improved if some of the recommendations are immediately implemented. Afzal A Shigri

Road Safety Karachi-2012
By
Asad Jahangir Khan
Road Traffic Injury Research Center has, in its seventh year, come out with road injury figures for the year 2012. Initiated by the Health Ministry it 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 road injury data from five major Karachi hospitals which is then compiled and analyzed in the center located in JPMC. Data shows that 38% of all injured road users were transported to hospitals by private ambulances compared to 39% in 2011. Over 60% RTIs are being transported by private means. There is 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 cases after registering a 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 2012, RTIRC recorded data relating to 35,671 persons injured in traffic accidents in Karachi. This gives an average of 2972.72 road injury cases every month. This included 1179 fatalities recorded during the year at a monthly average of 98.25.
In contrast the Karachi police recorded only 357 (525 in 2011) injury and 386 (476 in 2011) fatalities for the entire year of 2012. Although the hospitals report all injury accidents to police, only 1.1% of these reports were converted to FIR. In fatal cases the police registered FIR of only 32.7% of the cases reported by hospitals.
This means that 34,492 (30,614 in 2011) injury victims and 793 (685 in 2011) road users killed were not brought into the purview of the law and were deprived of third party insurance claims which is a mandatory provision of the Motor Vehicle Ordinance.
The reason for this is quite clear. Penal Code offenses require a complainant to record a FIR. The subsequent legal procedures are time consuming which on average takes at least 30 months. On the other hand the offense of rash and negligent driving in the Motor Vehicle Ordinance, 1965 is dealt through Summary Procedure in court and does not take more than a day.
There is, therefore, an urgent need for police to change its present policy of dealing with rash and negligent driving under the Penal Code. The Motor Vehicle Ordinance is a special law and it would be much more beneficial for road accident victims if this law was applied instead.
The traffic police should be empowered to deal with accident cases according to the provisions contained in the Motor Vehicle Ordinance. As the role model for traffic policing it would be helpful if the National Highway and Motorway Police took the initiative in this undertaking.
The chart below shows road user casualties in Karachi in the year 2012.
                                       ROAD USER GROUP
                                   Injury                     Fatal             Total                 
                                   
Rider/Pillion Rider     22,020 (64%)                  566 (48%)        22,586 (63%)
Pedestrian                    7126 (21%)                   407 (35%)          7533 (21%)
Passenger                     3322 (10%)                   126 (11%)          3448 (10%)
Drivers                           837 (2%)                       38 (3%)              875 (2%)
Unknown                       1187 (3%)                     42 (4%)            1229 (3%)
Total                            34,492 (100%)              1179 (100%)      35,671 (100%)

An analysis of road users involved in injury accidents shows that 64% (22,020) were riders, 21% (7126) were pedestrians, 10% (3322) were passengers and 3% (837) were drivers.  
In fatal accidents 48% (566) were riders, 35% (407) were pedestrians, 11% (126) were passengers and 3% (38) were drivers.   
In the year 2011, riders were involved in 62% ( 19,297) injury accidents, and in 47% (546) fatal accidents. The pedestrians were involved in 23% (6841) injury accidents and in 35% (402) fatal accidents.
The above figures show that riders and pedestrians are the most vulnerable road user groups on the roads of Karachi. The involvement of riders and pillion riders in accidents is growing in tune with the rise in motor cycle population which is very alarming. 
The severity index shows that a pedestrian accident is more likely to be fatal.  Riders were involved in 64% (22,020) of injury accidents and in 48% (566) fatal accidents. On the other hand pedestrian involvement in injury accidents was 21% (7126) but 35% (407) in fatal accidents.
In view of above analysis it is crucial that all agencies involved in road safety should accord the highest priority to these two road user groups. Road engineering should improve the pedestrian facilities to make them safer. Pedestrian fatalities of 402 in 2011 and 407 in 2012 are too high to ignore this road user.
The police needs to pay closer attention to riders and prepare a strategy for improving enforcement of law. Police also needs to take a closer look at the driving license regimen for riders. There is a dire need to design a new testing system for riders in tune with the rest of the world before they are eligible for a driving license. This will require a considered training regimen with a reliable certification process for testing officers conducting driving tests.
The major cause of rider injury accidents is slippage and skidding which shows lack of riding skills. Riders weave through the traffic stream and are also not visible to drivers especially of heavy vehicles. The engineers may consider designing a separate lane for m/cyclists an initiative which has shown good results in Malaysia.
There is also a case for making it mandatory for motor cycle lights to be switched on while plying on roads. The rider weaving through traffic is not visible especially to transport vehicles which is evident from the high involvement of such vehicles in collisions with motorcycles. This is a mandatory requirement in all countries where road safety is good and they have found that this measure saves lives.
There is also a need to make bus (including minibus) and other heavy vehicles safer for pedestrians and riders. 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 collision with the pedestrian or rider is focused on the lower hip. The body should be so fabricated that it impacts the whole body and throws the pedestrian and rider away from the vehicle. Otherwise these two vulnerable groups are pulled under the vehicle with disastrous consequences.

        The above chart reveals that only 7% of the riders who were injured were wearing a helmet. Studies reveal that 86% of the fatalities amongst riders were caused by head injury. This means that 487 out of 566 riders, who were killed in road accidents in 2012 could have been saved if they were wearing a helmet.
Karachi Traffic Police enforcement data reveals that 396,470 riders who violated helmet law were ticketed in 2012. Despite this the police have failed to enforce helmet law. Although the police needs public and media support in its enforcement action against riders violating helmet laws, it also needs to review its enforcement action.
Compliance with law is generally poor amongst road users. We have 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 25% (25% in 2011) occurred at intersections and 75% (75% in 2011) occurred at mid-block. Accidents at intersections are very high. This 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. Invariably the intersection design opens up the road to cater to left and right turns. This widens the intersection and fails to compel the driver to slow down. This has an adverse affect rider and pedestrian safety.       
A survey of cause analysis reveals that 88.0% of all accidents were the result of road user fault, 5.0% were the result of road fault and 6.0% were a result of vehicle fault.
                                      Month wise Casualties
Month
Injury
Percentage
Fatal
Percentage
Jan
2622
8%
98
8%
Feb
2584
7%
121
10%
Mar
2783
8%
105
9%
Apr
2538
7%
87
7%
May
2824
8%
86
7%
Jun
2873
8%
100
8%
Jul
3533
10%
105
9%
Aug
3763
11%
112
9%
Sep
2668
8%
95
8%
Oct
3245
9%
97
8%
Nov
2373
7%
78
7%
Dec
2686
8%
95
8%
Total
34492
100%
1179
100%

 July, August and October show the highest number of injuries. July and August alongwith February and March show highest number of fatalities.

 Casualties are mainly pedestrians and riders. They are vulnerable round the clock. More traffic results in more casualties. The city wakes up slowly as indicated by the dawn casualties.  
Injury Severity by Age
Age                Injuries                         Fatalities                    Change

2011
2012
2011
2012
Injury
Fatal
<= 5
1002
1070
34
28
7%
-18%
6-10
1484
1604
40
39
8%
-3%
11-15
1754
2062
55
56
18%
2%
16 - 20
5701
6478
132
147
14%
11%
21 - 25
6068
6596
166
182
9%
10%
26 - 30
4482
4919
149
148
10%
-1%
31 - 35
2781
2996
122
121
8%
-1%
36 - 40
2234
2521
81
91
13%
12%
41 - 45
1642
1817
73
73
11%
0%
46 - 50
1328
1516
64
71
14%
11%
51 - 55
803
893
54
59
11%
9%
56 - 60
786
869
53
57
11%
8%
61+
824
995
76
71
21%
-7%
Unknown
250
156
62
36
-38%
-42%
Total
31139
34492
1161
1179




 The above chart shows that the most vulnerable age group involved in accidents is between 21 and 40. 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 which would enable riders to shift to a mode of transport which is far safer than riding a bike.
Injuries per Kilometer
Road
Length
Rider/Pillion
Per KM
Pedestrian
Per KM
MA Jinnah
11
1563
142.0
367
33.6
Sharea Faisal
14
1178
84.1
364
26
Korangi Road
10
1016
101.6
386
38.6
Sher Shah Suri
4
642
160.5
139
34.7
Sadiq Ali Khan
4
981
245.2
168
42.0
Fazal Elahi Road
8
557
69.6
195
48.7
Main Korangi Road
3.5
302
86.2
97
27.7
Mauripur Road
4
399
99.7
235
58.7
SM Taufiq Road
3.5
261
74.5
121
34.5
Ibn Sina Road
3.5
301
86
93
26.5

 The above chart shows that the most dangerous arteries per km in Karachi for pedestrians are Mauripur Road with 58.7 casualties (53 in 2011) and Ch. Fazal Ellahi Road with 48.7 casualties (42.6 in 2011). For Riders/Pillion Riders, Sadiq Ali Khan Road with 245.2 casualties (186.3 in 2011) and Sher Shah Suri Road with 160.5 casualties (157 in 2011) are the most dangerous.
Conclusion
In conclusion, it is important to understand that the most vulnerable road users in Karachi are the riders and the pedestrians. It is, therefore, important that all stakeholders involved in road safety must plan for the pedestrian and riders. Road engineers need to design road systems that give the first priority to these two vulnerable groups. Transportation planners need to design a transport system that encourages commuters, specially riders, to use public transport.
Law enforcement must accord priority to pedestrians while regulating traffic and encourage and promote safe pedestrian strategies. The rider should be specially targeted in its enforcement strategies. Helmet law has not been enforced although it has been mandatory since 1980. Police needs to examine its enforcement strategy and if it requires new resources, it should place its demands and ensure zero tolerance towards non compliance to helmet law.
By far the most important issue in traffic law enforcement is a need for establishing a traffic police on the model of the Motorway Police. Without this it would not be possible to enforce traffic law.
Moreover, the traffic police needs to be empowered to deal with all road accidents under the laws laid down by the Motor Vehicle Ordinance. This would enable them to provide a service to road injury victims which is not made available to them under the present system of dealing with road accidents under the Penal Code.
Lastly it must be understood that road safety is the responsibility of various state agencies of which engineering, enforcement and education are the most important. Traffic regulations on highways and at local levels is the responsibility of authorities designated by law. Transportation policies are decided at federal, provincial and local levels. Development agencies also work at these three levels. Law enforcement is dependent on development strategies, transportation policies and traffic regulations. All these agencies need to be working in concert if road safety is to be improved.
It is, therefore, extremely important to establish a management system for dealing with road safety. A road safety organization needs to be established under law to make strategies for all stakeholders and carry out safety audits to ensure compliance. Most countries have such a statutory body and India has recently established one. In addition there is a need to establish Parliamentary Committees on Road Safety. This would provide due priority to an issue of extreme importance in which the state loses between 1 to 2 percent of GDP through road accidents in the entire country.