KARACHI: When it comes to monthly variation of road accidents, Ramazan, particularly during the hours leading to iftar, is when the most traffic accidents occur in Karachi.
The behaviour of motorcyclists, ill-maintained roads and poor lightning are other causes of traffic accidents in Karachi. These were some of the points raised during a presentation on Wednesday evening on road accidents in Karachi, its causes and impact at the Urban Resource Centre.
Professor Dr Rashid Jooma, principal investigator at the Road Traffic Injury Research and Prevention Centre, said that the highest number of road accidents were recorded in 2007, 2008 and 2009. "It was in this time that flyovers and signal-free corridors were first constructed and the public, being unused to them, fell victim to many accidents," he explained. Dr Jooma went on to say that ever since then the helmet-wearing ratio has increased on its own and is now 35%.
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Dr Jooma said that although helmet quality standards have been prescribed, they are still unknown. "According to our data, helmet wearing by pillion riders is almost zero," he said, adding that besides the manufacturing of the helmet, how it is worn by the rider is equally important.
As per the data shared by Dr Jooma, last year the number of road accidents was 31,000, a figure that has remained almost constant throughout the years. The data has been compiled using information from three public hospitals of Karachi, as well as one private hospital. Of these accidents, 79% are termed minor, 3% as fatal and 19% fall into the serious category. He added that Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre receives the more serious cases and fatalities, Abbasi Shaheed Hospital receives the most injuries, while most of the comparatively minimal injury cases make it to Civil Hospital, Karachi.
Unsurprisingly, motorcyclists fall victim to the most injuries; 43% of their accidents are fatal, while 43% of the riders receive injuries. Interestingly, Dr Jooma said that it is the rickshaws that are most likely to hit both motorcyclists and pedestrians.
According to the statistics, a majority (53%) of the victims of road accidents are taken to hospitals in private cars that stop at random to help. Edhi and Chippa make up 17% and 15% of the modes of transportation for victims of traffic accidents. Considering this 53% of private car share, there is a lot of scope for city ambulances, he commented.
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When it comes to road-wise distribution of accidents, Gadap Town is on the top with up to 12%, followed by Korangi (8 %) and Keamari. Similarly, if road accidents are to be categorised by per-kilometre-distance, the National Highway leads in the statistics, followed by Sharae Faisal, Korangi and the Super Highway.
Roads and problems
Closure of intersections along Sharae Faisal that do not allow for u-turns is one of the reasons behind accidents in the area, according to ex-Sindh IG Asad Jahangir. Quoting a figure of 2,069 injuries and 19 fatalities in 2015, he said that the fallout is due to the violation of one-way traffic by commuters.
Similar problems were reported from Baloch Colony Flyover (106 injuries and three fatalities) and the Northern Bypass. About the Northern Bypass, Jahangir said that the two parallels roads are accessed through illegal cuts. "At present, the trucks for which the construction was done in the first place, are avoiding it due to the heavy presence of cars and motorcycles on the roads," he said.
Professor Mir Shabbar Ali of NED University of Engineering and Technology identified driver's behaviour and the presence of bumps on Jam Sadiq Bridge as reasons behind accidents on that road.
The road near Attock Pump in Mansehra Colony needs to be channelised as there are as many as 32 manholes present there, he suggested. Shaheed-e-Millat faces the same issue as the manholes have not been properly sealed or engineered; the road experienced 122 injuries and three fatalities last year.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2016.
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