About 520 people dead in road traffic accidents this year; daily death toll ten

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About 520 people dead in road traffic accidents this year; daily death toll ten

By Nadia Fazlulhaq Additional reporting and pix by Badulla Correspondent Palitha AriyawansaView(s):

  • Moratuwa University transport expert says de-merit system essential, to improve discipline among drivers,
  • wants independent authority to conduct road safety audits
  • Highway Ministry Secretary says warning signboards, speed bumps, rumble or alert strips will be put up in high risk, hilly terrain areas

Many roads are susceptible to rock falls and landslides.
From the rural town of Lunugala in Badulla, Anthony Noah (46) and his wife Benedict Merona (31) left the world tragically leaving behind their children, aged three, seven and eight in the hands of an ailing grandmother. They were among the 14 precious lives that were lost when a bus crashed down a 200-foot precipice in Passara last week.

While committees, authorities and officials cite causes varying from delayed removal of a rock, reckless driving, irregular time tables, failure to implement safety measures to not following quarantine guidelines in public transport, families of 14 people are left saddened, shocked and helpless by the sudden demise of their loved ones. According to the Police, about 520 people have died from fatal road traffic accidents during the first three months of this year, while another 1054 accidents resulted in serious injuries. Close to 3000 people have received minor injuries from accidents.

At present, the daily death toll from accidents is about ten. The Moratuwa University’s Transport and Logistics Management Department senior lecturer T. Sivakumar says, “It is essential to introduce a de-merit system.

This will reduce a lack of discipline among drivers. Meanwhile, provincial transport authorities should monitor long distance time tables and provide continuous training for drivers, both the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) and private bus drivers.” Dr.

Sivakumar adds “In bus passenger transport, the private sector is about 60 percent but there is no strong supervising mechanism and long distance private bus drivers rarely get enough rest time. Road safety audits should be made mandatory at design level, construction and while roads are in operation.”

About 520 people dead in road traffic accidents this year; daily death toll ten

Anthony Noah (46) and his wife Benedict Merona (31) left the world tragically leaving behind their children, aged three, seven and eight in the hands of an ailing grandmother. Pix by Palitha Ariyawansa.

“The audits should not be done by the Road Development Authority (RDA) but an independent authority. Auditing should be an external one and not to investigate the mistakes but to point out and highlight safety precautions. It should be a professional body established under a parliamentary act.

Similar to the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) issuing the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), Urban Development Authority issuing the Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA), this institution should issue a Road Safety Audit (RSA),” Dr. Sivakumar says. Uva Province Governor A.

J. M. Muzammil said there were many roads in susceptible for rock falls and landslides and other dangerous places that need to be looked at and safety measures implemented immediately.

“The delay in removal of the rock should not have happened. The authorities were alerted six months ago,” the Governor said. Highways Ministry Secretary R.

W. R. Pemasiri told The Sunday Times the Ministry would be expecting a report from a three-member committee including two members from the Ministry and one from the RDA.

The committee would look into failures and corrective measures that need to be implemented by road authorities. “As road safety audits are costly and time consuming, priority will be given to high risk, hilly terrain areas. Warning signboards, speed bumps, rumble or alert strips would be put up in necessary places.

The plans are to make road audits compulsory at the design stage for new road construction,” he said. Motor Traffic Commissioner Sumith Alahakoon said a de-merit system would be introduced soon, with the Police working on the software. “At present a process re-engineering study is being conducted on improving the quality of driver-training and regulating the issuing of driving licences,” he said.

This week, Transport State Minister Dilum Amunugama told Parliament that measures would be taken to conduct a road audit with the assistance of provincial road development authorities. He said plans were also going ahead to strengthen the procedure of obtaining passenger transport licences by introducing a two week in-house training at a state-run training school. The Minister also said SLTB employees working on contract basis for more than five years would be made permanent and vacancies for driving instructors would be filled soon after an examination was held this year.

This week saw another freak accident when a speeding van ran over and killed two people including a Police Sub Inspector who was on duty at a police roadblock near the Ayurveda roundabout in Rajagiriya. The 56-year-old SI was attached to the Police emergency unit and was checking driving licences of a lorry and a three-wheeler stopped near the roadblock. He and the lorry driver were run over by an apparently reckless van driver.

A vegetable trader from Thalawathugoda, the van driver has been arrested and investigations are being carried out by the Welikada Police. A five-year-old died on admission to the Wellawaya base hospital after he was thrown out from the opened door of a moving van carrying per-school children. In another tragic accident reported from Pallai in Jaffna, a father and two children were killed on Friday night when their car and a tipper collided.

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