KARACHI, July 7: The city has witnessed nearly 500 deaths in road traffic accidents during the first half of this year, as officials and experts see an increasing number of vehicles, violation of traffic rules and lack of road sense mostly among pedestrians and motorcyclists as a major source of the deadly incidents, it emerged on Saturday.
Figures compiled by the institutions concerned indicate that road accidents continue to pose a serious threat to the lives of motorcyclists and pedestrians.
The latest figures compiled by the Road Traffic Injury Research and Prevention Centre (RTIRPC), situated at the Jinnah Postgraduate and Medical Centre, suggest that hundreds of road accident cases were reported at different hospitals in the city from January to June 2012.
“A total of 475 deaths in road traffic accidents have been reported over these six months,” said a source privy to the data compiled by the centre.
“But officials are still gathering data, and the final number is feared to be greater. In these 475 cases, the victims were brought dead to the hospitals.
“Past trends show that many of accident victims under treatment at private and public hospitals also die,” added the source.
Bike riders, pedestrians
The number of people who suffered serious injuries was higher than those who died, he said, adding that most accidents victims were found to be motorcyclists and pedestrians who were hit by other vehicles.
Traffic officials said rebuilding of major roads and extensive development in the city had yet to address problems faced by pedestrians. Haste and ignorance of traffic rules among both pedestrians and drivers often lead to road accidents which can be avoided only through collective efforts, according to them.
The officials admitted that lack of serious effort from traffic policemen to check traffic rules violations was one of the reasons for the accidents, but said that waning moral values in society and lack of respect for laws had made it difficult to prevent traffic rules violations.
“And ultimately they (people) suffer,” said DIG licensing of the city traffic police Dr Mohammad Maalik. “I don’t see any other reason for deadly accidents except reckless driving by motorcyclists and lack of [driving] sense or you can say lack of respect for law among both motorists and pedestrians.”
He agreed that the traffic officials deployed on roads to keep a check on such violations were often found ignorant of their job which also encouraged motorists and mostly riders to challenge the writ.
An RTIRPC report released a couple of months ago showed an overall five per cent drop in fatal accidents in 2011 as compared to the previous year. Road accidents claimed 1,161 lives in 2011, it stated.
The findings of a road safety study, however, showed a 10 per cent increase in fatal accidents of young people, aged between 16 and 25 years.
Of around 4,000 persons below 16 years and nearly 12,000 people between 16 and 25 years who suffered injuries in road crashes in the city, 300 died last year.
“Riders and pedestrians have always been found vulnerable in accidents,” said RTIRPC project manager Ameer Hussain.
“It’s unfortunate and at the same time surprising that the city with hundreds of thousands of bikes doesn’t have a single motorbike driving institute. Besides, there is a dire need to regulate licensing system and provide safe places to youths so that they can practise and test their skills,” he said.