Be streetwise

Dipti Sherchan


Today is World Health Day and since the focus this year is road safety, our reporter finds out how safe our roads are

Every year on April 7, the World Health Organisation (WHO) hosts an event to celebrate the anniversary of its founding in 1946. The event focuses on a health issue to promote awareness, understanding, discussion and debate on the issue and to mobilise action to address it through prevention and treatment. On World Health Day 2004, WHO has focused on road traffic injuries and measures of prevention. The slogan for this year is “Road Safety Is No Accident”.

According to the Valley Traffic Police Office data the major accident spots in Kathmandu are Chakrapath, Sukedhara, Gyaneshwor area, Nalinchowk, Shwayambhu, Bhote Bahal, Old buspark, Tilganga, Tripureshwor-Sundhara, Babar Mahal area, Maitighar, Balkhu, Pulchowk, Tinkune and Guwarkhu-Koteshwor. The number of casualties in road accidents has been increasing slowly over the last couple of years. More than three-quarters of the casualties are males. More than 65 per cent of pedestrians are involved in road accidents under the age of 30. Among accident cases, more than 80 per cent of accident casualties are as a result of drunken driving, usually at night. Though vehicle pressure on holidays and festivals are low, the accident rate remains slightly high because of drunken driving. On an average 60 per cent accidents occur during night. Trucks and buses account for 45 per cent of accidents on the highway and small vehicles account for 42 per cent of accidents on city roads. The maximum accident rate has been in motorcycle cases. In a day, according to Senior Superintendent of Police Surendra Bahadur Pal, 13 to 18 of accidents cases are reported of which many are motorcycle cases.

Over 60 per cent of road fatalities are caused by head injury. So as to overcome the head injury from January 1, 2003 Valley Traffic Police enforced the helmet law for both rider and driver. The result? “Use of helmets has reduced head injuries when the victims have tied the helmet properly.” says Pal. For the four-wheelers fastening of seat belt was made compulsory from March 15, 2003.

With the over population of vehicles and road accidents, in certain places zebra crossing are made to enable pedestrians to cross the road. There are altogether 17 zebra crossings in Kathmandu. But it is often seen that people do not follow the rules of zebra crossing. The vehicles go their own way and the pedestrians are left bewildered in the middle of the zebra crossing.

In this case what can be done? “There should be mutual understanding between the pedestrians and the drivers when they are on zebra crossing. People are definitely following the rules of the zebra crossing but not many. This might have happened because of lack of awareness and to some extent they might be doing it because they want to go their own way. When pedestrians are walking on the zebra crossing they should also see whether any vehicle is coming or not. They should see and walk. On the other hand, the drivers should also see the number of pedestrians who are on the crossing and should let them cross the road first.” There is no law for those who do not follow the rules and regulations of zebra crossing and Pal recommends, “There should be a law and it should be made quickly.” There is a fine of Rs 200 for those who are not wearing helmets. Often we see local transportations like mini-bus, micro van being overloaded and seat belts not used. At times when they see the traffic police they wear it somehow but not properly. The fine ranges between Rs 200-Rs 500 for not wearing seat belts and for overloaded bus the driver is fined Rs 1,000-Rs 5,000.