After another accident on Jammu-Srinagar highway near Ramban claimed five more lives last weekend, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha directed the departments concerned to carry out road safety audit and rectification measures within a week. The deadlinesso set ends on June 12.
Mr Sinha also in a right direction called for launching road safety awareness campaigns on such stretches to check accidents caused due to human errors.
One hopes that the deadline is met and flaws, if any, are discovered and measures taken to rectify them are taken with reasonable haste. Delays could prove costly as has been the case previously and that too umpteem times.
Hardly any day passes when one does not come across tragic news about an accident happening in Jammu and Kashmir. 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
There is 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.
There is also a need to carry enquiry into the exact cause of accidents along the strategic highway, more so in the areas prone to it.