Bengaluru is facing a hit-and-run epidemic

Bengaluru is facing a hit-and-run epidemic

The increasing number of hit-and-run accidents over the years, coupled with the declining number of successfully traced cases, has once again highlighted deficiencies in road infrastructure, road user behaviour, and the adequacy of current safety measures.

Bengaluru Traffic Police’s latest report, ‘Road Traffic Accidents in Bengaluru City 2021-2023’, accessed by DirhamHe notes that the number of hit-and-run accidents increased by approximately 41% between 2021 and 2023. This increase coincides with an annual increase in fatal accidents.

Since 2021, hit-and-run crashes have accounted for 30%, or nearly a third, of all fatal crashes annually. In 2023, 266 of the 883 fatal accidents occurred in this category.

Dr Gautham MS, Additional Professor of Epidemiology at WHO Collaborating Center for Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion, Nimhans, explained that these numbers can be attributed to several factors.

He stated, “The combination of shock, adrenaline, fear of public reaction, police action, and financial loss for treatment of the person and vehicle are some of the factors that can prompt individuals to flee the scene of an accident.”

Furthermore, drunk driving contributes significantly to hit-and-runs due to poor decision-making, prompting individuals to flee, especially when facing serious criminal charges.

However, if no serious injury occurs, there is a 90% chance that people will stop to help the victim.

Perhaps most worrying is the increase in the proportion of hit-and-run cases that have not yet been tracked. In 2021, only 31 cases were traced, and the number rose to 77 cases in 2023. Consequently, the tracing rate decreased from 83% in 2021 to 71% last year.

This may be because some accidents that occur in one calendar year are discovered only a few months after the next year and hence are not reflected when the report is compiled in January every year, said M N Anushith, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic).

“The detection rate, including cases from previous years, will increase over time,” he said.

Photo credit: DH Photo/Pushkar V

In 2023, the majority of these incidents occurred between 6pm and midnight (96 cases), and approximately 40 cases occurred between midnight and 6am.

To track down the accused in these cases, police rely on a combination of CCTV footage, informants and forensic evidence. However, incidents that occur late at night and in areas with poor visibility and insufficient CCTV coverage present major challenges in detection and often remain undetected.

However, crime scene officers can at least identify the types of vehicles involved in these accidents, most of which are SUVs, according to Anocheth.

The data indicates that 229 of the 266 fatal hit-and-runs in 2023 occurred on the city’s main and secondary roads, excluding the central business district (CBD) and high-density corridors (HDC). These details help the traffic police identify dangerous areas and develop road safety mechanisms tailored to each type of road, as speed may not be the only factor contributing to accidents.

“The average road speed in the CBD is 18 kilometers per hour, so speeding does not contribute significantly to accidents there. We then examine the main causes of accidents, which could be related to road geometry, vehicle size, or other factors.” It may not apply anywhere else.

For example, the Nice Road features many steep turns and undulations without proper handling at certain points, which can lead to accidents.

Urban mobility expert Ashwin Mahesh pointed out that most of the victims in such cases were pedestrians, because the city’s road infrastructure priorities were misplaced.

“Unlike many other countries, we make roads for cars. Instead, crosswalks should be a priority on all roads. The lack of crosswalks pushes pedestrians onto the streets, making them more vulnerable,” he said, noting that Broken and uneven crosswalks, including many that are merely drainage covers that serve as crosswalks, and crosswalks blocked by parked vehicles push people onto the roads, increasing the risk of injury on the roads.

He also explained that many cases go untraceable because the vehicles have changed ownership several times and are not properly registered.

“Police officials often get away with giving abstract reasons for their failures, such as ‘the road was not lit.’ Instead, the officials involved should be named and held accountable.”

(Published 30 March 2024, 20:54 he)

    (tags for translation) Karnataka 

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