Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Thursday asked the State government as to what steps can be taken to ensure safety of citizens on the roads in the wake of a bus accident in Palakkad claiming nine lives, including five school students.
”Issuing circulars is of no use, take action,” said Justice Devan Ramachandran, who took up the issue as he had received a message from a passenger of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC).
The judge said it was ”heart-breaking” to hear about the tragedy and that there should be a solution to prevent such accidents in the future.
The court made the Transport Commissioner, also holding charge of Road Safety Commissioner, as party in the matter and asked him to be present in person or appear online on Friday when the issue would be taken up again.
The court took up the accident issue along with a plea pending before it on road constructions.
During the hearing, Justice Ramachandran suggested suspension of licence of drivers after just a couple of violations, issuing orders preventing buses and heavy vehicles from overtaking each other and having seat belts and airbags in buses as well.
The court said there were drivers who have committed 47 traffic violations or use ”abusive substances” and still continue driving on the roads as they believe they can escape the consequences of accidents or any other such dangerous incidents.
However, when abroad, Malayalees are excellent drivers. They only have a problem when driving here, the court observed.
”We should think how we can prevent such accidents from happening. Many people do not value the lives of others. Why is life worthless? Everyone drives vehicles according to their own preferences. No one is afraid of the law. People escape the consequences by paying fines. That is why the law is often unenforceable,” the court said.
”This is due to a system failure. Accidents often occur due to excessive speed of buses and this is evident from the buses plying in Kochi city. It is a miracle that we all are alive. People should have faith that if they leave home, they can return there unharmed. Steps should be taken for that,” the judge said.
Justice Ramachandran further said that he does not see any change in speeding over limits and reckless driving by buses in Kochi city despite there being an order of the court against the same.
The court noted, during the hearing, that there is no lane discipline on the roads as heavy vehicles, instead of going on the left side of the road, always prefer the right side. Earlier. the court sought a report from the police and Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) regarding the accident.
A Division Bench of Justices Anil K Narendran and P G Ajithkumar, which took up the matter on its own based on media reports of the tragic incident, also ordered that flashing laser lights and banned horns should not be used in vehicles. It also gave a direction that vehicles with such light and horns be impounded.