Increasing Road Accidents

Increasing Road Accidents

Almost every day, traffic accidents, some of whom fatal, happen across Kashmir. This, in a way is , no surprise given the reckless nature of driving that takes place in Kashmir.  Each of us, as commuters, drivers or passengers , have in one form or the other,  experienced the reckless nature and form of driving in Kashmir. Be it queuing  in a traffic jam where a fellow driver or drivers, suddenly break the queue and drive sideways right into the middle of the road or the recklessly fast driving of taxi- especially Sumo drivers- or the weird driving of motorcyclists and scooterists, examples galore exist of hazardous  driving that have road safety implications and consequences. This is insofar as defining the problem is concerned. What explains the hazardous driving and its  fatal consequences? And can anything be done to stop it or , in the least, check it? There appear to be two main explanatory factors for the bad, reckless and hazardous driving in Kashmir: one is , what may be called the “supply side” and the other is what may be called the “demand side”. On the supply side, there appears to be laxity or less stringency in the issuing of drivers permits and licenses. Driving license tests weed out and help drivers refine their driving skills and techniques. Ideally, driving tests must be both theoretical and practical with equal weightage to either. The theoretical aspects of the test must examine the relevant knowledge and practice that driving entails; and the practical tests should examine the obvious. This is the supply side. In terms of the demand side, there is laxity in imposing discipline on the roads by the people concerned. Corruption, laziness, and even lack of understanding of traffic rules by those meant to impose discipline on the roads , among other things, ensure that drivers and commuters do not take rules seriously.  All these factors, in combination, lead to a mess on the roads of Srinagar and even Kashmir. The sad fact is that this mess exacts tolls in terms of lives lost. If traffic in Kashmir is to be brought to a condition where it is well managed and where there is no gratuitous loss of lives in accidents and order is imposed on the anarchy on roads, then it stands to reason that both the demand side and the supply side of traffic management need to be streamlined and aligned in a seamless fit. If nothing, lives might be saved!

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