Curbing Mishaps 

Nine persons, including three of a family, were killed in separate road accidents in the Kashmir Valley on Monday. On an average, three persons die and twenty-five sustain injuries in accidents on the state’s roads every day, official figures show. A shocking 3,595 persons had lost their lives in 19,444 road accidents during the period 2010-12, while 28,246 had been injured. The data says a total of 6,142 accident cases registered in 2010 claimed 1,029 lives and left 8,945 people injured. In the year 2011, 1,140 lives were lost and 10,092 persons injured in the 6,665 accidents reported, while in the year 2012, a total of 6,637 accidents were reported, with 1,426 fatalities and 9,209 injured victims. This would indicate that over the three years road accidents have claimed more lives in Jammu and Kashmir than militancy.

The traffic police cites rash driving, overloading and violation of other traffic rules for the fatalities.  Most road accident victims are college and school-going bikers who seldom slow down even on bad roads.  Expressing helplessness, a top official of the department concerned sought cooperation from civil society to curb the growing menace.

It has been reliably learnt that driving licenses are easily available at the Regional Transport Office (RTO) in lieu of some monetary consideration. This has to be checked. Licenses should be issued to persons who meet the driving criteria fixed by experts. And before being issued licenses, candidates must be made aware of traffic rules. 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 department concerned also needs to upgrade its infrastructure. By installing closed circuit cameras at key points, over-speeding and other traffic violations can be checked to a great extent. Roads cannot be made safe by primitive tools. The system has to be upgraded and modernized.