The district has witnessed a sharp fall in fatal accidents after the police introduced ‘Wishing happy and safe journey’, a first of its kind programme in the State, stopping long-distance vehicles on national highways at the district’s entry points in the early hours and allowing the drivers to proceed after serving them tea.

Following two fatal accidents on successive days in May, in which four people, including a child, were killed and more than 20 people injured, Superintendent of Police Omprakash Meena launched the programme on May 17 and it helped in containing accidents, if the accident records are any indication.

After the launch of the programme, police teams led by Sub-Inspectors of Police stopped vehicles coming from Madurai at Parthibanur, those coming from Thoothukudi at Sayalkudi and those from Pudukottai at Thondi and served tea to the drivers to relax for a brief while. The police allowed the drivers to proceed after cautioning them to be alert between 4 a.m. to 5 a.m. when most of the accidents happened.

Since the launch of the programme till June 30, the number of people who died in accidents stood at two compared to 10 recorded between April 1 and May 16. While fatal accidents came down by 60%, non-fatal accidents fell by 23%, the SP said.

He said the programme was launched after statistics showed that most of the accidents happened between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. due to human errors when the drivers, after night-long and non-stop drive from far-off places, could not avoid falling asleep. After offering them tea, the police teams, each comprising four personnel, interacted with the drivers and gave them tips on safe driving, the SP said.

Pasting reflective stickers in accident-prone zones, providing lights at junctions and speed breakers at intersections also helped in containing accidents, the SP said. “A total of 295 people died in accidents in the district in 2017 and we want to reduce the number considerably,” he added.

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