Staggering Increase in Road Accidents and Fatalities: Nature’s Fury or Human Folly?

Staggering Increase in Road Accidents and Fatalities: Nature’s Fury or Human Folly?
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Adil Rashid Bhatt

As scientific advancement overtook and banished every antique of the days of yore and ushered in a mammoth technological cum digital revolution, man learned to invent new modes of transportation as well that finally culminated in the invention of diesel and petrol engines, that would later run small and big vehicles and locomotives; the corollary that followed from here paved the way for a transportation revolution worldwide. And today we can afford a personal vehicle at a price of few lakhs. The boom in road transportation came with own set of flaws, as nothing is infallible in this ephemeral world. Road accidents became a common occurrence throughout the world ,and more people are dying due to road accidents than would die of fatal diseases during dark ages of Europe. The developed world overcame this menace by imparting hardcore training to aspiring drivers and construction of vital and accident proof road networks. But the world we are living in, neck and crop, presents a different picture. Here more people die due to road accidents than of diseases, and, J&K, tops this proverbial competition of accidents.

I would not have called it competition but the figures of accidents tell a woeful tale that vindicates my gross assertion. As reported by this newspaper more than nine thousand peoples have died due to fatal road accidents from the past nine years. The report also states that since first January 2019 108 peoples have died in 749 road accidents in our state. Quoting Jammu and Kashmir traffic police website the report states: In 55,491 road traffic accidents across the length and breadth of Jammu and Kashmir since 2010 till February 2019 9,234 peoples have been killed and 77,182 peoples have been injured too, some maimed for life. The report further gives a yearly timeline of the number of accidents accompanied by number of kills. The mammoth quantification of accidents can blow any sane mind to smithereens. The incredible number of deaths due to road traffic mishaps might not have a parallel in the modern world. All costly things-paid with life- are unique to Kashmir. These unsolicited killings are not natural but , perchance, an implicit vengeance of nature as more and more roads are being carved and laid out amidst blooming agricultural fields and mountain passes and hills, trampling in its mammoth march everything living and natural. This speaks volumes about state of affairs in this part of the world, and qualifies for a comprehensive study as to what leads to these mind-boggling accidents and their impact on the environment.

Is it sheer incompetence of drivers at steering or bad roads that leads to such tragedies of monstrous proportions? And what exactly have the successive administrations done to make our killer and accident prone roads safer for plying of vehicles? This also begs a well resourced study to find out whether our roads, being laid, are in consonance with the environment and ecology, and the local ecosystem; and whether the agencies endowed with the responsibility of road constructions follow a model of sustainable development, or the administration is itself seldom interested in upholding this vital tenet? To rout out this menace of road traffic accidents or considerably minimize its impact procurement of licenses need to be made a Herculean task. In many cases of road traffic mishaps it is the driver of vehicle who is at fault, as nowadays any Tom and Jerry can procure a license by bribing blue eyed officials of the ever bankrupt transport department. To make confusion worse confounded even some reckless parents take proud when they spot their underage child embellish their personal vehicle or someone’s two wheeler motorcycle, without giving a second thought to the ramifications of their euphoria laced nonchalance. This needs to stop to pave way for a more secure world and future. Here , the onus not only lies on the administration to bring in stringent laws to control issuance of licenses but parents need to equally behave as responsible members of society to secure a better future for themselves and their children.

—The author, from Laram, Islamabad (Anantnag) can be reached at: bhatadi43@gmail.com