Hardly any day passes when one does not come across tragic news about an accident happening in Jammu and Kashmir. Earlier this week, five members of a family were killed when a vehicle they were travelling in fell in a gorge in Doda district. Several other persons died in between.
Road accidents are a major cause of deaths, and injuries every year. As per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, in 2019, at least 4,37,396 road accidents were recorded in India, resulting in the death of 1,54,732 persons and injuries to another 4,39,262 persons. Jammu and Kashmir has gained the notoriety of being amongst the states or UTs having the highest percentage of unnatural deaths including due to accidents in the country.
1009 people died in 5839 road accidents in Jammu and Kashmir last year. As per the latest NCRB report, 364 people died in 2140 road accidents on highways followed by 118 deaths elsewhere.
While some general causes like error attributed to drivers including reckless driving, overloading, poor condition of vehicles, etc. are prevalent almost across the country, the accidents in J&K can be attributable to factors like dilapidated and narrow roads, common ignorance about traffic laws and lack of knowledge about safe driving principles. Historically, people and administration has been quite slow in taking effective steps to improve the engineering of roads
The Lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha aptly emphasised need to work on more innovative ideas in road safety programs as well as making improvements in the response system as per the requirements.
He has suggested need for incorporating mechanism in the accident analysis under Road Accident Data Management System so that making changes in road designs or any other engineering interventions required can be identified for corrective measures in collaboration with all the stakeholder departments.
There is also a need for the transition to a professional road environment which requires the implementation of first-tier reforms that deal with the quality of road infrastructure, facilities for susceptible users and zero-tolerance enforcement of rules by a trained, professional and empowered machinery.
Scientific road system marked by good engineering, strict enforcement, appropriate technology use and respect for all road users is the need of the hour and steps should be taken towards achieving it.
The safety measures should be strictly implemented, failing which accidents will continue unabated.