High medians to cut deadly East Coast Road accidents

The Times of India

CHENNAI: East Coast Road, one of the most accident-prone roads in the city, will soon be much safer for motorists and pedestrians, with the state highways department set to construct high central medians on the 5.5km stretch between Neelankarai and Akkarai.

The 1-metre-high medians will solve two problems ECR faces: The ever present danger of head-on collisions and risk to pedestrians who attempt to cross the road when vehicles are zipping at high speed.

The medians will enhance pedestrian safety by the simple expedient of preventing them from crossing the road. They are also high enough to ensure that vehicles don't end up on the other side of the road if they collide with the median.

The median work between Neelankarai and Akkarai will cost Rs 1.70 crore and be completed in less than a month.

The height of the median will prevent motorists from being blinded by high-beam headlights on vehicles heading in the opposite direction at night, the primary cause of many accidents.

"Driving is a nightmare on this road. Sometime, I see three pairs of headlights heading towards me. Hopefully, the medians will stop dangerous driving on the road," said Akshay Alexander, a regular commuter on the stretch.

Highways officials admit that high medians do not guarantee pedestrian safety. Some reckless pedestrians still attempt to cross the road on a stretch of ECR between Thiruvanmiyur and Neelankarai where high medians have been constructed.

Pedestrians say they have no choice. "How else do we cross the road? I see people squeeze through the gap between the streetlights and the median," said Mrinalini Baskaran, a resident of Neelankarai.

Highways say there are seven junctions on the stretch, so crossing the road should not be a problem for pedestrians.

Of the 77 accidents on ECR in 2011, 33 involved pedestrians, according to traffic police.