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Surface Transport and Traffic Planning in Kerala

Kerala historically depended much on it’s rivers and backwaters, as far as surface transport is concerned. Various types of boats used to be widely used for transportation of goods and people. The Boat Houses, Chundan Vallams etc. remind us of our rich ‘boat’ past. Iruttukuthi vallams were used by the kings to fight the war even in the darkness of night. Being a very narrow strip of land, with western ghats on the east and Arabian sea on the west, no wonder that the rich waters were used for transport. Thus one of the major kingdoms of Kerala, the Travancore, rightly earned it’s name ‘Vanchinadu’, the boat country!. But as time passed, Kerala started using roads increasingly for surface transport. Being a faster means, the road transport made water transport, a glory of the past. However the House boats are very popular with tourists and a few boats owned by the Water Transport Department are popular for travel in Vaikom, Kuttanadu and Payyannur.Across the world, traffic planning to improve transportation facilities as well as safety of passengers is a major concern. Kerala is the most populous state of India. Road accidents are a major safety concern of the State and traffic accidents account for a major portion of Crime Statistics in Kerala. Overpopulation of vehicles, road engineering defects, road conditions and driving defects together contribute to accidents which take away around 4000 lives every year, apart from injuring more than 40,000 people  in this small state. Skills, attitudes and behaviour of drivers and the nature of enforcement of traffic rules and regulations are very important in determining the number of accidents. Apart from the high density of population, the undulating topography, thick vegetation, contiguous habitation and roads strait - jacketed with buildings on either side are major reasons for the increased rateof accidents in the state of Kerala. Apart from road engineering problems, inadequate road signs, poor condition of roads, drunken driving and inadequate road sense of drivers and road users are major concerns as far as road safety is concerned. Facilities of Ambulance and hospitals throughout the state are a golden line in the darkness. However Trauma Care Special Units need to be developed in all the hospitals, so as to save more lives in accidents. Awareness on how to attend and save lives is a major task to be undertaken seriously by NGOs, hospitals and other agencies in tandem with each other. Those individuals and organisations involved in saving lives from accident scenes need to be encouraged by the society. Trained drivers who are sensitized over traffic regulations tend to drive safely. With the above dictum in mind the Kerala Government is planning to start an Institution of Drivers Training and Research. With the help of various Governmental and Non-Governmental Organisations, various road safety programmes are being organised in Kerala to make roads safer. Street shows and other awareness programmes, through audiovisual and print media are organised. A street show by the Trivandrum City Traffic Police is worth mentioning here. It is attracting big crowd and conveys good message to the public.  Traffic warden system involving school children is introduced in some areas. Pamphlets on road safety are printed and distributed by various agencies. Kochi City Police recently released a Traffic Guide for the benefit of road users in Kochi City. Complaint Card System is used by many District Police Traffic Units for receiving complaints of public against traffic law violation, misbehaviour while using public transport etc. Recently the Highway Police Units of Kerala were revamped with new vehicles. The Highway Police help can be sought by the public from the telephone number 9846100100. Highway Police is arranging awareness programmes for school children, drivers etc in many districts. Prepaid autorikshaw and taxi facilities are arranged with the help of police in many cities. Various steps to enhance road safety such as Zebra Line and other road markings and road safety audit are being undertaken now, apart from tightening of safety standard of vehicles. Provision of cranes and ambulances owned by the Government and NGOs are available under the National Highway Accident Relief Service Scheme, ALERT Service, etc. Widening of National Highways from 2 lanes to 4 lanes and 6 lanes is taking place in many areas.

Dr. B. Sandhya IPS,
Inspector General of Police
Armed Police Battalions & Traffic Planning

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Traffic Awareness Videos

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