Unsafe Roads

Unsafe Roads
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Road accidents, some of them fatal, are now almost a regular feature of life in Kashmir. News reports of accidents are found in newspapers on a daily basis. The frequency of road accidents is thus acquiring alarming proportions in Kashmir. In places other than Kashmir, usually drunken driving is the culprit for road accidents and fatalities thereof. But , in Kashmir, being a dry or almost a 100% teetotaler society, the reasons are different. Essentially, a compendium of reasons from both the demand and supply side, account for road fatalities in Kashmir. Consider the supply side first. The disbursal of licenses to motorists and scooterists is not a picture perfect exercise. It is a loose process which is not stringent enough to check and verify the driving skills of motorists and others who ply the roads. Given this loose process, people with lax motoring skills with inadequate knowledge of traffic and its requirements thereof, are let loose on the roads. On the demand, side, on account of a blend of economic prosperity and easy consumer finance, there is a plethora of people who no own cars, scooters, motor cycles and other vehicles. This creates a dense urban and even rural environment and thereby pressure on the road infrastructure of Kashmir. All this is overlaid by a ratio of traffic enforcers to people which is skewed. Lax traffic enforcement then accrues. There is also the issue of temperaments of people who drive vehicles and commercial gain. For example, Sumo drivers and those plying urban transport compete in such way that constitutes harassment to the passengers and danger to pedestrians. Hence, the increasing number of road fatalities on our roads. The cure and antidote to this lies in tightening and streamlining both the supply and demand side of traffic in Kashmir. First and foremost, the process of granting and disbursal of licenses should be made more stringent and vigorous. It should be in the nature of a multi-tiered process wherein the applicant should be made to sit for a test of his/her traffic knowledge , understanding and driving skills . Only after passing this exam should the potential applicant be made to undergo the practical test. Rigorous and hefty fines for those who breach traffic rules should be the natural concomitant to these tests. Moreover, society , as a whole, must introspect and then develop and imbibe a civic sense and consciousness that is in accord with prudent and safe commuting. All in all then, in combination, these measures could make our streets and roads safe- of course, in relative terms.

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