Hardly any day goes by when one does not come across terrible news about an accident happening in Jammu and Kashmir, claiming precious lives and rendering people with pain to endure for years.
Road accidents are a major cause of fatalities, and injuries every year.
According to 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 fault on part of drivers including reckless driving, overloading, poor condition of vehicles, etc. are widespread almost across the country, the accidents in J&K can be attributable to factors like dilapidated roads, common ignorance about traffic laws and lack of knowledge about safe driving principles. Traditionally, 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.
Continuing accidents lends grist to the view that officials are not getting their act together any time soon.
With accidents continuously occurring, the response from concerned authorities can be said to be all but lukewarm. The accidents besides claiming lives ruin family families. Various steps to bring order have not worked. There is a need to lay down engineering standards and complaints procedures that will help citizens hold the government to account. The concerned departments continue to take an indulgent view of rule violations despite strict rules and high penalties for violations. There is need for education, civil society cooperation and professional policing.