There appears to be no end to the recurring road accidents, claiming previous lives almost routinely. 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 have been quite slow in taking effective steps to improve the engineering of roads.
Recently, a Committee of Experts, constituted on the directions of the High Court of J&K and Ladakh identified several causes for the rise in road accidents on the Batote-Doda-Kishtwar Highway. Among others it included reckless driving, the use of outdated vehicles, and driver fatigue.
Keeping in view the recommendations by the panel of experts, the government needs to put in place a multi pronged strategy by involving various departments. All these departments need to assume a systematic assessment of the identified locations and proceed with the installation of safety measures. There is need for carrying out regular inspections and maintenance of road infrastructure to ensure their effectiveness.
The situation calls for launching road safety awareness campaigns on such stretches to check accidents caused due to human errors.
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.
There is need for strict enforcement of speed limits, breath alcohol tests, and other traffic regulations. To meet the endeavor, there is need for deploying adequate number of trained traffic police personnel and equipping them with necessary wherewithal. The expert committee has made elaborative recommendations including the need for launching mass awareness campaigns regarding road safety. The concept is to train minds to adhere to set rules and regulations. There is a general tendency to sell old vehicles in rural areas that are not at all roadworthy for hilly terrain. A proper check should ensure that such vehicles are not allowed on hilly roads.