Road accidents occur routinely, claiming precious lives. There were more than 4 lakh unfortunate road accidents claiming over 1 lakh lives and injuries to nearly 4 lakh persons in 2021, according to the Road Accidents in India – 2021 report.
The annual report published by the Road Transport and Highways Ministry said though the number of road mishaps decreased as compared to 2019, fatalities, on account of road accidents, increased by 1.9 per cent in 2021 corresponding to the same period in 2019.
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. Traditionally, people and administration has been quite slow in taking effective steps to improve the engineering of roads
According to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, its Transport Research Wing (TRW) collects and compiles accident data from the police departments of all States/UTs with a view to provide relevant and reliable data on accidents. However, TRW does not compile road accidents data on the basis of road engineering defects. At the same time, the ministry informed the parliament in the recently concluded winter Session that it has issued guidelines for conduct of safety audits at all stages including design, construction, and operation).
The National Highways Authority of India also issued road safety audit policy on May 27 last year, prescribing Audit requirements as per IRC guidelines in all phases of the project.
As per the Ministry, road safety audit remains an integral part of detailed project report (DPR) and feasibility study as per guidelines by Indian Roads Congress (IRC), the Apex Body of Highway Engineers in the country and that action is being taken by the Ministry accordingly in all projects.
Also the NHAI has made third-party independent road safety audits at DPR stage mandatory.
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. The safety measures should be strictly implemented, failing which accidents will continue unabated.