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Drive, but without a stink

Film star Archita at the walkathon for road safety week in Bhubaneswar on Thursday. Picture by Sanjib Mukherjee

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 3: The state commerce and transport department today observed road safety week in the city in which the most strident message was not to drive under the influence of alcohol.

The department organised a walkathon in which transport officials, stars of the Odisha film industry and people from civil society took part. Film stars such as Archita, Pappu Pom Pom, Pupinder and Bidusmita also took part in the rally.

Autorickshaw operators also organised a marathon to create traffic awareness. Around 2,000 auto operators, too, took part in the marathon this morning.

Sources in the transport department said street plays on road safety measures would be staged in seven places of the city on January 6.

“The number of vehicles is increasing everyday along with the number of accidents. Through road safety week, people can be educated about various safety measures,” said a senior transport official.

Accidents have been a major concern for transport officials.

Statistics available with the State Transport Authority revealed that during 2011, 599 accidents had taken place, killing 189 people and causing injuries to 564 persons. In the period from January 1 to September 30, 2012, the state capital had witnessed 457 accidents.

The accidents have resulted in the death of 158 persons and caused injuries to 474 persons.

Sources in the transport department said drunk driving was the major reason behind most of the accidents. “The most common cause of accidents is drunk driving. People must realise that driving under the influence of alcohol can lead to fatal accidents. Road safety week is aimed to create awareness regarding drunk driving,” said regional transport officer, Bhubaneswar, Lal Mohan Sethy.

The theme for this year’s road safety week is “stay alive, do not drink and drive”.

The road safety week campaign, which began of January 1, will be observed till January 7.

“Autorickshaws have become the lifeline for the city. So, any negligence by the operator can be disastrous for people and the operator as well. During the road safety week, we will create awareness among the operators about measures to avoid mishaps,” said general secretary of the Bhubaneswar Autorickshaw Mahasangha Padman Kumar Samal.

Residents, however, felt that the authorities must improve road conditions along with creating awareness.

“Road expansion and renovation have been a major problem in the city. The authorities are yet to take precautionary measures for pedestrians, who are the most prone to accidents. The authorities must address these problems along with awareness campaigns,” said Prasant Jena, a senior citizen from Damana.