The recent school bus incident raises many questions about our road safety
The school bus accident at Anantnag, where 11 school children died and many were injured has been another heart rending episode among a chain of road accidents in our state occurring every now and then. Such events are tragic that spell doom on the entire society. Besides collision, it leaves behind distress, sorrow and suffering. Thus adoption of preventive measures against such tragic events is essential. We must identify the causes of such accidents. In order to eradicate this increasing trend of accidents, attention is required. The damage caused by the road accidents is simply irreparable.
Road transport is the primary means of traveling from outside and within the valley. Roads act as the veins and arteries for the flow and movement of people, goods and other consumables, supporting the business activities in this region. The rail link is going to take some more time to develop and that too shall remain restricted to certain areas only. Roads need be developed to the IRC/ BIS specifications to make traveling safer than it is.
A detailed study needs to be carried out to identify major causes resulting in road accidents on various roads like Jammu-Srinagar-Uri, Srinagar- Leh-Kargil National Highways, roads connecting Doda, Kishtwar, Poonch etc. and other internal roads of the J&K State. This would help project the rate of growth in the vehicle population in the last about two decades along with the statistics of the road accidents on these roads. The road accident rate in India is among the highest in the world, with at least 1,34,000 killed each year on the roads. The roads are going to become the world’s fifth largest killers by 2030. The poor design of hilly roads in particular in J&K State results in the catastrophe and the one we saw just here.
The target group for this survey should consist of various officials from the state and central government organizations, R&B Department,BEACON and Traffic Department. Officials, motor vehicle associations, service engineers from vehicle dealers, surveyors and loss assessors from various insurance companies etc. from the locality. The factors to be surveyed through a questionnaire could be: a) Unskilled drivers, b) Drunken drivers, c) Improper Traffic Management System (improper markings on road and bumps), d) Non-compliance and lack of awareness regarding traffic rules, e) Poor road condition. poor geometry/ design f) Unfit vehicles, g) Negligence and careless attitude of pedestrians, h) High vehicle density, i) Over-loaded vehicles, j) Limited road network, k) Fog, rains, snow and slippery frost conditions. While all these factors contribute to road accident in different situations, there are some common factors responsible specifically on certain roads. Another matter of concern has been the unchecked mushroom growth of vehicle population during the last two decades. In this connection easy loans from banks for purchase of vehicles has been a major cause. With increase in number of road accidents (year-wise) number of fatalities has also increased making the situation highly critical and alarming.
I have been witness to a road accident on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway in 1965/ 1966, when I was conducting survey of Jammu-Srinagar 133KVA- HVT line on a hill side and a convoy of army vehicles was moving on a hairpin bend of the highway. It was perhaps due to sharp bend, that one vehicle instead of turning went straight down the hill slope and many more vehicles followed him to meet the same fate.
The frequent road accidents during the last few years have taken toll of many lives. Authorities must rise up to the situation so that roads are made safer for public.
Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili is Retd. Chief Engineer