There is hardly a day when no accident takes place in Jammu and Kashmir. Many precious lives continue to be lost to the accidents while many people are left injured to endure lifelong pain.
The higher number of deaths in accidents every year should have raised an alarm bell among the policy-makers and the concerned government agencies responsible for ensuring the safety of people travelling by road.
According to the ‘Road Accidents in India-2020’ report, released in May this year by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, adults in the working age group of 18-60 years accounted for 87 per cent of the total road accident fatalities in 2020. Around 70 per cent of the mishap deaths were attributed to overspeeding, followed by ‘driving on the wrong side’ (5.6 per cent). These findings should worry all even as numbers must have been much higher but for the covid-19 engineered restrictions.
Top administrators in J&K have time and again called upon the departments concerned to carry out road safety audit and rectification measures. However nothing concrete has been established, at least on the ground.
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 government have been quite slow in taking effective steps to improve the engineering of roads
Technology can play a key role to make roads safer, but the human element remains critical. Disciplined driving remains basic measures that can curb the daily mayhem on the roads.
Apart from customary statements of concern and expression of grief, nothing concrete is happening on ground to prevent the accidents from occurring.
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, more so in the areas prone to it.