National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) report states that in 2019, 1,570 deaths were reported due to road crashes near educational institutions in India.
Experts said no footpaths, broken and occupied footpaths, lack of road sign-boards, lack of pedestrian crossing and non-working traffic lights near schools are a threat to the life of school students.
Poorvi, 12, a student of Bangalore International Academy (BIGI), Jayanagar said that the traffic light in front of the school doesn’t work therefore it is difficult for students to cross the road.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) report on Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India, in 2019, 10.6 percent (1,570 out of 14,782) deaths were reported due to road crashes near educational institutions in India.
Many schools don’t have any road signs nearby conveying school ahead, speed limits or no honking zone. Harish, Principal, Holy Saint School, Jayanagar said that earlier they had “school ahead” boards on both sides of the school but someone removed it so they are yet to write a letter to Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) for putting up the road signs.
She added that she is concerned as there are no footpaths near her school and majority of her students walk to school.
According to a study in 2020, by National Study on Safe Commute to School by SaveLIFE Foundation and Mercedes-Benz Research and Development India, about 35 percent of the respondents in Bangalore walk to school.
In many places, the footpaths are occupied by the street vendors. R Jayakumari, Principal, JSS School, Jayanagar said that a bamboo vendor has occupied the footpath near the school and he refuses to vacate it, therefore, students have to walk on roads which is quite dangerous.
Minakshi, 16, KPS School, Jayanagar said that on her way to school, the footpaths are broken at many places so she is forced to walk on roads.
According to the study, around 30 percent of children across 14 cities in India, including Bangalore reported to have witnessed road crashes during their commute to school, while six percent said that they themselves were involved in road crashes during their commute to school.
The study also mentioned, 30 percent of respondents said that there are no footpaths, 19 percent reported the absence of zebra crossings and 16 percent reported the absence of traffic lights near schools.
Devraj, Head Constable, Jayanagar Traffic Police Station said that broken and no footpaths often lead to road accidents.
He added that the traffic police file cases on the street vendors who occupy footpaths. The vendors vacate the footpath after getting a notice from the traffic police but they occupy it again.
According to a report by Karnataka Government, in 2020, 9,760 people were killed in road accidents in Karnataka out of which 309 were minors. Bengaluru City tops the ranking in terms of accidents across the state for about 9.46 percent of the total accidents in the state in 2020.
Vijay, Head constable Jayanagar Traffic Police Station said that it is compulsory to put up road signs within 50 meters of every school on both the sides.
Eshwari PN, Inspector, Jayanagar Traffic Police Station said that the traffic police annually informs BBMP about the number of road sign boards they require and needs to be replaced.
MN Sreehari, Traffic and Transport expert said that it is the fundamental duty of the BBMP to make sure that the city has proper road infrastructure to avoid accidents. He added that the schools can put up the road signs as well but they aren’t concerned enough about their students’ safety.
Rajkumar Dugar, Citizens for Citizens, an NGO said that the footpaths should be well maintained and wide enough so that the pedestrians don’t have to walk on roads. The footpaths in the city are in very bad condition as some are broken, some are occupied, some have holes in them and most importantly, many footpaths are not wide enough to walk, he added.
Most motorists don’t care enough to stop honking and slow down their vehicles even when the school zone boards are in place, he said.
BS Prahallad, Chief Engineer, Road Infrastructure, BBMP Head Office, Corporation Circle said that BBMP has Traffic Engineering Cell (TEC) for taking ”traffic calming (safety) measures” under which every year, they put lane marking, road sign boards, caution boards, etc. near schools in coordination with the traffic police and from 2021 they are going to do these traffic counter measures twice a year. “Through this, we are going to cover all the places which we have missed,” he said.
Footpaths are broken due to unruly diggings and are left unattended therefore they need to work on this, he added.
The Bangalore Traffic Police gave a list of requirements including road signs and they have included them in the budget estimate, he said. “All these things will be provided by January and February, 2022” he added.