Killer Highway

Killer Highway
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Twenty one people have been killed in Ramban after the driver of an overcrowded minibus lost control and fell into a deep gorge. The number of deaths is not a joke, to say the least; it is alarming and should concentrate minds. It may be pointed out here that the horrible accident in contention is not an isolated case. There are accidents on this high but these occur with more intensity and casualties on the Kishtwar and Doda stretch. The question is: why do accidents of a fatal nature occur on these high altitude roads? The answer is as obvious as can be: these roads are high altitude, circuitous and convoluted roads which actually invite accidents. This is , of course, the broad reason but it should not mean accepting accidents. There are and should be pre emptive reasons that actually reduce the accident rate to a bare minimum. (Bare minimum because zero accident rate is not perhaps possible given driving errors, negligence and so on). Now , the question that arises is how can the accident rate be brought down to near zero levels? One measure that that stares in the face is the enclosure of steep precipice like portions abutting gorges and cliffs with heavy concrete fencing. This is doable. Another is that buses and other passenger vehicles along these roads must not be overloaded and drivers only allowed to ply if they have licenses and are highly trained. There might be other measures as well which can best be delineated by experts in road and structural engineering. The paramount concern of these experts must be to ensure road safety. Returning to the horrible accident which claimed twenty one lives , credit must be given to the people of the area who without any expertise, plunged without giving a thought to their lives, and not only helped retrieve the bodies of the deceased but also helped save lives. These actions can only be admirable and even heroic. Having said this, road safety on roads like the ones in contention, must be the paramount concern. Twenty one people lost their lives and there have been fatal accidents in the past. If not this, what else can and will spur action? Lives matter and lives lost cannot be brought back. What is owed to the memory of those who lost their lives and saving lives in the future is to institute effective and efficient road safety measures, the sooner, the better.