According to official averages, three persons are killed and twenty-five injured per day in road accidents in Jammu and Kashmir. Shockingly, 3,595 persons have lost their lives in 19,444 road accidents during the past three years. The number of injured during the same period stands at 28,246. The data further reveals that in the year 2010, a total of 6,142 accident cases were registered: 1029 lives were lost, and 8, 945 persons injured. In 2011, a total of 6,665 accidents were reported, claiming 1,140 lives and injuring 10,092 persons, while in the year 2012, a total of 6,637 cases were reported, with 1,426 fatalities.
The data makes clear that road accidents have claimed more lives than militancy. The traffic police blame rash driving, overloading and violation of other traffic rules. Most road accident victims are college and school going bikers, who seldom slow down, even on bad roads. Expressing helplessness, a top officer of the department concerned sought cooperation from the civil society to curb the growing menace.
Yes, the traffic police alone cannot do much. All have to rise to the occasion to save precious lives. It has been reliably learnt that driving licenses are easily available in the RTO office in lieu of some consideration. This has to be checked. Licenses should be issued to persons who meet the criterion fixed by experts. And before issuing licenses, the candidate must be made aware of traffic rules. This must be followed by a total ban on purchase of new vehicles for the next five years. Thanks to car loans offered by banks, owning a car has now become very easy. The increasing number of vehicles on the state’s roads is in no way an indicator of development. It reflects shortcomings in government policy. Unless the state has the roads to accommodate the growing traffic, the purchase of new vehicles should be banned.
The civil society has a vital role to play. It can raise its voice against overloading and parking of vehicles on busy roads. The traffic department also needs to upgrade its infrastructure. By installing cameras at key points, over-speeding and other traffic violations can be checked to a great extent. Primitive tools cannot make roads safe. The traffic system has to be modernized and upgraded.