Accidents turning DK into Valley of Death?

January 19, 2014

As lives continue to be lost to fatal road accidents in Dakshina Kannada, the RTO seems to be snoring

The front pages of Mangalorean newspapers and websites are packed with disturbing and painful reports of road accidents, almost everyday. Although, these accidents peak during monsoons, they maintain a steady rate all through the year, radiating as the chief threat to life in the regions of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi, turning them into valleys of death.

These regions are known to play spoil sport and make hue and cry over trivial issues, which have no social significance or day to day relevance. But the heavy toll of human life lost to road accidents, remains a burning issue that nobody has ever paid attention to.

After a series of fatal accidents that followed over the last few weeks, One of my friends made this point, His mother wouldn’t be more petrified to send him to the Indian Army to fight wars, as much us she would, when he leaves to college in his motor bike.

Over the last fifteen years or so, as the people progressed and prospered, road accidents dictated more deaths, than any other form in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts. Many have lost their loved ones, people who left their homes never returned , some were young, other’s were old; rich, middle class, poor, it made no distinction, death came to bite them in a fraction of a second.

Although, spot analysis and forensic evidence show that these accidents have a lot to do with human errors, rash driving and safety evasions, people have mindlessly ignored the issue. No political figure, no civil body, no NGO, no student organization or even the angry high voltage super-nationalist groups (that often haul loud noisy music on trivial issues), have yet raised this matter with seriousness. With less than thirty lakh population, these districts have been at the helm of road accidents, topping the countrywide charts.

Who should take the blame?

Dakshina Kannada has one strange peculiarity in terms of passenger transport. There are no government buses (except in a few remote rural areas) and the passenger transport throughout the region is run by powerful private transporters. These buses run within the city and through national highways, with least control and monitoring from the Road Transport Authority.

The city buses which operate within cities are often seen ramming with high speed, overtaking each other & other vehicles, using the wrong lane, which have resulted in major collisions. The express buses running through highways, generate excess-high speed, often crossing speed limits, and have caused considerable mayhems.

In 2009, during a symposium held at AIMIT (Aloysius Institute of Management, Biri), a prominent Mangalore based lawyer Mr Ivan Dsouza was invited as a guest speaker on road transport in Mangalore city. Then, Ivan Dsouza was serving as the president of private auto rickshaw and bus drivers' union. Soon after his talk, I penned down a question to him regarding the massive rise in hit and run cases involving private buses. He had absolutely no answer, and then deviated it by saying they were pressurized from bus owners and RTO (Road Transport authority) concerning their timings, and hence were forced to drive at high speed.

The hit and run cases have been frequent ever since the early nineties, when number of private buses rose steadily. Since then, the private bus owners have only succeeded in creating a cartel system, where by they decided to run passenger transport on their own terms. They fixed minimum number of buses in specific routes, and made sure that their buses were crowded.

And as the population of the city got bigger, the buses remained fixed and the owners benefited enormously. Ladies thronged the front rows and Men jam-packed the back rows, youngsters and students started clinging on the door steps, tilting the bus to one end. The traffic policemen were paid in pocket full by the bullying owners and the Road Transport Authority slept over these grave traffic and transport offences.

Safety evasion and dodging traffic rules

The first step towards safety is a careful man. Indians by far, are the least careful and the most neglectful people in the universe. A British television documentary on Konkan Railways, makes a significant observation on train safety. Here, the English host reads some safety instructions carved on the platform, and the very next moment sees all safety instructions being flouted as the people cross track lanes, while the train is just meters away. The host gets boggled by the utter negligence and imprudence of the passengers and curses, them as ‘stupid people’ and yells saying all safety instructions outlined as ‘nonsense’.

Ever since helmets have been mandated, one finds that people wear it as a means to escape traffic police surveillance; they don’t even buckle the strap, without realizing the rule was made to avoid spot deaths caused by head injury.

Another major reason, for rise in accidents have been the bottleneck roads. Even the national highways, where goods are transported through heavy trailers and trucks, are extremely narrow, creating very little space for other vehicles, resulting in disastrous accidents.

The Private Buses invariably play a predominant role in devastating road accidents that occur every single day. Hit and Run cases are frequently reported. So far no bus driver has been nabbed or locked up; No Bus Owner has been questioned by the authorities. It’s a shame that in a region with leading educational institutions and with a significant educated population, not one student organization or Non governmental organization has shown potency to step out and raise the issue and hold the culprits accountable.

At the worst, private transport buses have to be banned and Government Buses should be introduced, Or the authorities have to regulate and take stringent actions against Private Bus Owners.

What is the Road Transport Authority doing? Why hasn't an MLA or an MP, or any politician bothered to take this issue? Why haven’t the angry high voltage super-nationalist organizations come out in the streets, as they usually do? The answer lies in the question itself. They are either sleeping or been bribed by the Private Transport Goons. Human Life has been valued at a very low price in these regions, How many more lives need to be lost, for someone to take a stand and derive strong measures to prevent further casualties?


Chris D'Souza Archives:



By Chris Emmanuel D'Souza
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Comment on this article

  • umesh derebail, mulki

    Fri, Apr 11 2014

    Basically accidents are caused due to bad road planning except for main roads, many interior roads are hardly 12 feet, tvvo vehicles cannot pass safely, secondly concrete roads are dangerous for tvvo wheelers, thirdly, there is hardly any footpaths fourthly the NH 17 has been dangerous designed devoid of footbridge, underpass, and road vvidth. Helmet wearing should be made compulsory.

  • Rudolf, Mangalore/Mumbai

    Tue, Jan 28 2014

    Road infrastructure is one of the worst in DK added to the absolute lack of traffic sense and fearlessness of the law that leads to maximum no. of fatal accidents leading to loss of mostly young and productive lives which is a big loss to the nation!!

    Unless the authorities strictly think on the lines of developing a dedicated mass transport system to ferry people across various destinations, these incidents are only set to rise as more and more affluent people buy cars and jam up the already existing roads!! Jai Ho!!

    Just the other day a unscientifically prepared road hump snuffed the life out of a brilliant medical student in main Mangluru!!

  • Neil, Mumbai

    Mon, Jan 27 2014

    Proper Dividers and sufficient powerful street lights are much needed on priority basis!

  • Manoj Sequeira, Barkur/Johannesburg

    Sun, Jan 26 2014

    Driving in Indian road is like playing video games. No rules or regulation. You can change any track any times anywhere. Anyone cares ?

  • abdulla, india

    Sat, Jan 25 2014

    Thank you Politicians -thank you municipal engineers-thank you road builders and contractors.
    This what you care for the nation.
    this is what you are professional for?
    this is how you follow the standards.
    As chidambaran rightly said in infra projects only 35% sanctioned money goes into the projects where is the rest?
    Whose pockets are line dup?
    As dr. CNR Rao stated only 10% reaches their office for scientific research, yet they produce such wonderful results -since they are committed.
    so, where is the accountability -transparency.
    Do they follow the drawings-design s-specification s-standards -are there inspector-engineers- are there material testing labs ?
    do they have the road building machinery and equipments -.
    This is all JUGAAD.
    Top to bottom corrupt.
    Janatha ha sto act and take very severe action.
    who is responsible for the live sof innocent?

  • prashanth, Mlore/Dubai

    Thu, Jan 23 2014

    Most of the accident happens in mlore due to not knowing some basic knowledge about the driving. Though people are good drivers they wont be aware of so many rules and regulations or they are careless about those rules. I have seen many of the experienced drivers does not know, how to use side mirrors, there is a blind spot in side mirror and all. People hardly use signals while turning or changing tracks, dangerous overtaking,overspending are some of the reasons for major accidents in the area.

    Most of the time some silly mistakes causes maximum damage. I urge RTO to give some basic training about rules and common sense course before issuing the license.

  • ruchir agarwal, mangalore

    Mon, Jan 20 2014

    The traffic police has now illuminated cats eye designated places at bus stops . But most of the time buses still stop in middle of the road.You can see this at the St Agnes stop .

  • Dayanad Bangera, Katapady / Abu Dhabi

    Mon, Jan 20 2014

    The Main reason for Accidents in our region is, most of them do not understand the importance of safety, technic of driving, avoiding hazards while driving, expecting hazard. Some of them have only one aim that is speed and reaching the destination early by taking so much of a risk. Cool / calmness / respecting others on the road will help reduce fatalities in our region. There should be a special driving course for each and every driving license holder in India and it has to be given while issuing license ( Completion / certificate without giving bribe ).

  • John DSouza, Mangalore

    Mon, Jan 20 2014

    1.2 billion people in India and 6 billion people in the world along with billions of other living things, live, grow, act and move, being living vehicles, without releasing any unhealthy air pollution and sound pollution.
    But why the man made vehicles consume so much expensive fuel and donate health hazardous pollutions, by eating most of our budgets and keeping millions of people unemployed, by hindering our development projects?
    If our earth planet can carry huge oceans and continents and rotate and move around the sun, why we cannot roll on the huge weight on wheels by using the free and abundant gravity force of earth?
    While we can reach anywhere and everywhere in the world through free telecommunication (mobile technology), don’t we feel that we care and spend lavishly for the surface transport, by which we suffer a huge current account deficit and oil subsidy cost, to increase the unemployment and poverty level?
    How can we ignore the opportunity to have a peaceful society, stable economy and clean environment through an auto industry revolution?
    If we accept and implement the change, we can be a leading economy and developed nation much earlier.

  • Ramesh, Udupi

    Mon, Jan 20 2014

    Good Article Chris. Very serious issue, not taken care by the authorities.
    Right Time, We collectively fight against this menace to save our loved ones and minimize fatalities on the roads.


    Mon, Jan 20 2014

    There are hundreds of private bus owners, but nobody is ready to pay at least for funeral expenses of a victim after the fatal accidents. They will just pass over the responsibility to Insurance companies. KSRTC is a largest transport organization of the state and will give immediately some compensation for the victims. Private bus owners bribe district administration and raise the bus fares as and when they desire for the same. Bus owners increase the rates regularly thinking that they are governed by OPEC as Petroleum companies. All over the state except DK & UDUPI KSRTC buses are flying. Our leaders made us fools only in the twin districts calling us as intelligent public for their selfishness.At the worst, private transport buses have to be banned and Government Buses should be introduced, Or the authorities have to regulate and take stringent actions against Private Bus Owners.

    What is the Road Transport Authority doing? Why hasn't an MLA or an MP, or any politician bothered to take this issue? Why haven’t the angry high voltage super-nationalist organizations come out in the streets, as they usually do for their political benefits? The answer lies in the question itself. They are either sleeping or been bribed by the Private Transport Goons. Human Life has been valued at a very low price in these regions, casualties. How long we have to suffer in the cluster of private bus owners without getting facilities of KSRTC?

  • Bennet Vas, Mangalore

    Sun, Jan 19 2014

    High time the RTO / Government woke up and sorted out this big mess root cause is corruption in the Money spinning Public transport sector. Comments from Mr. Glenn, Mangalore/Kuwait are spot on. Many a times I have highlighted in this forum the need to educate the drivers of Private buses, as well as the Auto drivers on Road Rules and safety, to me most of these - goons get a cheap thrill in showing off their poor driving skills to impress the lady passengers. Ivan D'souza is a politician in the making and we cannot expect much from him.

  • Glenn, Mangalore/Kuwait

    Sun, Jan 19 2014

    Appreciate author for this article.During my vacation, I travel by two wheeler on NH66 Udupi Mangalore stretch.Majority of accidents takes place on this highway which is still under construction.Let me tell you my practical experience.
    1.Deviations are improperly made causing mad rush.Two wheelers at this point are at maximum risk due to jolts due to uneven surface and scattered gravel.
    2.Buses overtaking from the opposite direction never give space for 2 wheeler.If 2 wheeler is at the speed sudden landing on the footpath will trip the bike because the road is at a higher level.
    3.Over speeding automatic gear four wheelers are an additional threat to pedestrians and 2 wheelers.
    4.High speeding of express buses,city buses causes additional risks.
    5.Delay in arrival of an ambulance and first aid cause bleeding victims to death.
    6.People got scared to give first aid to an accident victim fearing judiciary system.
    7.Negligence of basic safety conscience among drivers and people, which is a threat to civilized society in general.
    8.Lot of higher C.C sports model bikes which are still unfit to our pathetic road conditions.Teenagers tempted to accelerate these bikes without knowing the consequences.
    9.Safety driving/Defensive driving campaign or awareness lacking.This is required while buying a bike or even in every college.
    10.A good quality helmet will protect head injury and life.Wearing helmet shall be mandatory.
    If addressed amicably there will be a significant number of life savings.

  • RICH, M'lore

    Sun, Jan 19 2014

    Presently in Mangalore , as there are difficulties in widening roads to make one way traffic to avoid accidents due to competition by individual transporters for earning revenues, for the time being govt. should cancel all the licenses given to individual transporters & the transport responsibility should be given to a single private company & that company shall be answerable to the govt regularity body for maintaining safety,fares, punctuality,cleanliness etc. All the individual transporters can join together & make a company.By doing this unemployment of workers can be avoided & also the condition of employees like drivers ,conductors ,mechanics will improve as they come under company rules & regulations like fixed working hours,leave, health care,PF,insurance, etc..If this is implemented & with improvement in transport workers' general conditions definitely there will be lesser accidents.

  • John DSouza, Mangalore

    Sun, Jan 19 2014

    We all are aware of the serious problems on the roads, but are we serious about their solutions?
    Being the roads are limited, we cannot multiply the vehicles on the roads, to meet the increasing transport demand by the rapidly growing number of commuters and goods.
    As compared to the revolutionized telecom sector, the surface sector is far behind with a lengthy evolution, at a slow and steady move.
    Based on the situation, if we implement a conceptual change in the vehicle move, we have the excellent opportunity to save a considerable volume of fuel, eliminate health hazardous air pollution and peace disturbing sound pollution, reduce costs of manufacturing, running and maintenance of vehicles and multiply the capacity of vehicles.
    As divide and rule is the best global practice, a simple link to move two unequal weights on wheels, which can reduce overall costs and problems more than 75% and in the meantime, can generate certain energy while moving the weight.
    The idea is to utilize the millions of tons of dead weight (of commuters and goods) on wheels as a free pushing force, instead of carrying it from a standstill position till the destination, with expensive fuel.
    If supported, we can have a rapid revolution in the surface transport sector, with incredible solutions and amazing benefits.

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