Last month, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) released a report about the deaths and injuries due to road accidents in India. According to it, a total of 4,61,312 road accidents occurred in 2022, which claimed 1,68,491 lives, while 4,43,366 people were injured.
Titled ‘Road accidents in India -2022’, the report reported 11.9% year-on-year alarming rise in accidents and a 9.4% increase in fatalities. There was a 15.3% surge in the number of people getting injured in 2022 against the previous year.
Out of the total fatalities reported in 2022, 61,038 (36.2%) were on National Highways, 41,012 (24.3%) were on State Highways and 66,441 (39.4%) were on other roads.
In terms of road-user categories, the share of two-wheeler riders in total fatality has been the highest (44.5%) during 2022 followed by pedestrian road-users with 19.5% of persons killed in road accidents. These figures are indeed disturbing.
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.
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.
Even more important is the need to learn the right lessons from this tragedy and work towards evolving a road safety ecosystem for Jammu and Kashmir at large.
Also for achieving any measure of success, an effective enforcement of traffic regulations is a must. To prevent road deaths and injuries, a traffic system better adapted to the physical vulnerabilities of its users needs to be created and it cannot be delayed. There is need for determined action aimed at preventing accidents.