More lives were lost last week on the Srinagar-Jammu highway, the Valley’s unpredictable, unreliable and accident-prone surface link to the outside world and only supply-line. The incidence of accidents on this and other Valley roads reflects the flaws in traffic management and regulation systems, which need remedies to reduce their deadly toll.
According to official data, an average of three persons is killed and twenty-five injured on the state’s roads every day. Over a span of just three years (2010 to 2012) 3,595 persons have lost their lives in 19,444 accidents, while 28,246 persons have sustained injuries. In a total of 6142 accident cases registered in 2010, the number of lives lost has been recorded as 1029, while the fatality figure stood at 1140 in the 6665 accidents reported in 2011, and at 1426 in the 6637 cases in 2012. The numbers indicate vehicles having taken a far heavier toll of humans than militancy during the period.
The traffic police cite rash driving, overloading and violation of other traffic rules for rising deaths on highways, with college-and-school-going youth and bikers, who seldom reduce speed even on bad roads, taking up most of the casualty list. Expressing helplessness, officers in the department stress societal cooperation and responsibility in addition to corrective measures in the system. Undoubtedly, the traffic police cannot do it alone, and needs public cooperation, but must be reminded of the disastrous impact of inefficient, partial and bribery-ridden enforcement mechanisms.
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 only to applicants who qualify the criteria fixed by experts, and every individual possessing the document must be ensured to be fully conversant with traffic and driving rules and capable of observing them when on the road. This must be followed by a total ban on purchase of new vehicles for five years. Thanks to car loans offered by banks, owning cars has become very easy, and the increasing number of vehicles on the streets, touted as ‘progress,’ ‘development’ and ‘prosperity,’ showcases all the three in long traffic jams, unregulated vehicular flow, lawless motorists and a fatality graph stuck at a steep angle.