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`Lack of coordination among agencies a cause'

By R. Sujatha

CHENNAI, APRIL 5. Lack of administrative commitment and political will are responsible for chaos on roads and rise in accidents, say experts.

They point out that traffic and associated problems are handled by too many agencies and there is little coordination.

Safety on roads will be the focus on April 7, observed as World Health Day. Non-governmental organisations have proposed special events, but experts are looking for changes that will reduce pollution levels and improve the health of road users. These changes, the experts say, must involve road users and not just the government or agencies dealing with traffic and transport.

Noise pollution

K. Subramanian, urban development expert, says urban space is limited and the roads are overused. Decision-makers must also be conscious of various policies.

According to an assessment, 75 per cent of air pollution is caused by motorised vehicles. Noise pollution, a gradual killer, increases only because of motorised vehicles. "In another 20 years, people will go mad" if the current scenario continues. "Already, air pollution is a major cause of respiratory diseases, leading to premature death," he says.

The World Health Organisation blames bad road designs, poor enforcement and lack of commitment on the part of the bureaucracy and the lack of political will to create awareness, use persuasive methods and make road users comply with traffic rules.

A traffic expert with the government concurs, but notes that people should also participate in making roads safe.

Despite the ban on air horns, many drivers continue to flout the rule and distract other road-users. Often, accident victims die for lack of care.

During the `golden hour' (within an hour of an accident), more harm than good may be done to the victim because of inexperience or forgetfulness.

For example, giving soda or water to a bleeding victim could kill him.

Wrong administration of first-aid could aggravate internal injuries and lead to permanent disability.

Though complaints against air and noise pollution can be made to the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, few make the effort.

The government traffic expert, who does not wish to be named, notes that drivers of public transport should be given regular health check-up. They depend on their vision to decide on stopping the vehicle.

A minor error in judgment can result in loss of life. Even a trace of alcohol can affect their decision-making ability.

He says doors in buses would prevent passengers getting in and out between stops, but India's climatic conditions and the volume of passengers make it impossible to incorporate these changes.

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