More than 4,000 persons died in road accidents at black spots in Punjab in just four years making for nearly 21 per cent of the total 18,805 fatalities on roads, two separate reports have found. The 4,047 deaths in between 2016 and 2019 translates into more than two fatalities at black spots per day.
As per a recent report on ‘Accident Black Spot Identification and Rectification Programme’, 1,982 persons died and 1,442 sustained serious injuries in 2,488 road accidents at black spots in 16 police districts between 2017 and 2019.
The report, prepared jointly in corroboration with Punjab Bus Stand Management Company Limited (PUNBUS), Punjab Police, and Safety Alliance For Everyone (SAFE), identified 407 black spots in 16 police districts.
The first part of the report, where road accidents were analysed between years 2016 and 2018, had identified 391 black spots in 14 police districts, including the three police commissionerates of Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana.
Currently, there are 28 police districts in Punjab, including the three commissionerates, with Malerkotla making it to the list after it was carved out from Sangrur as 23rd district (and by default a police district) in June 2021.
The latest report overlaps data pertaining to three districts of Bathinda, Sangrur and Tarn Taran. The first report had identified eight blind spots each in Bathinda and Tarn Taran and six in Sangrur.
However, the data pertaining to the three districts was not authenticated as it was pointed out that number of black spots identified were under-reported.
In the latest report, Bathinda has additional 39 black spots, Sangrur an additional nine black spots, and Tarn Taran additional 14 black spots causing the accidents.
An analysis by The Indian Express reveals that if both reports are taken together, 798 black spots (776 if the overlaps are removed) exist in Punjab.
As per the Union Ministry of Road Transport & Highways road accident black spots on national highways is a road stretch of about 500 meter in length in which either five road accidents involving fatalities/grievous injury or 10 fatalities took place during last three calendar years.
As per the latest report, out of 407 black spots, 292 (72 per cent) are on National Highways, 96 on State Highways or major district roads or other district roads (27 per cent), and nine on village roads and 10 on municipal roads.
Out of the total 1982 fatalities, as per the latest report, 1,481 died on National Highways and 294 on State Highways. “These two types of roads alone contribute 89 per cent of total fatalities on black spots that happened in Punjab,” read the report.
Of the 391 black spots identified in the first part of the report — which analysed accidents between 2016 and 2018 in 14 police districts — 264 (68 per cent) were on National Highways, 64 (16 per cent) on State Highways, Major District Roads and Other District Roads and remaining on municipal and village roads.
Traffic Advisor to Punjab government Navdeep Asija who anchored the two reports said the findings indicated that black spots leading to accidents were due to the “engineering faults”, which needed rectification in lighting on the road, junction improvement, road markings, among other things.
Asija said on an average there are 11 to 12 casualties per day in road accidents in Punjab, out of which 40 to 50 per cent occur on black spots, as per data compiled in two set of reports.
Asija said that three police districts were analyzed afresh in latest report after certain discrepancies were pointed in the data of the first report.
He added that potholes and accidents involving pedestrians crossing the road also contributed significantly in the road accidents. Asija said that following first part of the report, the National Highways Authority of India had already spent Rs 560 crore to take corrective measures to prevent accidents on identified black spots. The NHAI authorities had fixed December 2022 end as deadline to take corrective measures on 407 black spots identified in second report.
“Haryana has only 23 black spots. In Punjab, by identifying these black spots, we have made an attempt to take corrective measures,” said Asija.
As per the latest report, Fatehgarh Sahib police district has most number of black spots (48), followed by Bathinda (47 and Hoshiarpur (44). Jalandhar Rural has 38 black spots, Mansa 19, Barnala 28, Khanna 27 and Pathankot 23.
“In terms of fatalities among the districts, Fatehagarh Sahib (263) topped the list followed by Jalandhar Rural (247) and Bathinda (193),” reads the report. 192 fatalities were reported in Hoshiarpur, 133 in Barnala and 131 in Khanna police districts. The least number of fatalities were reported from Muktsar (47), followed by Ludhiana Rural (58) and Fazilka (59) in three years, as per the latest report.
Aiming to reduce black spots and number of accidents in Punjab, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has suggested several measures including no overtaking the school buses by cars, ensuring speed limits and safety features in cars; and reducing the number of accidents to minimum from 14 per day at present.
An official correspondence accessed by The Indian Express by the CMO to the transport department earlier this month also suggests planting trees in the memory of victims of road accidents.