J&K roads: death traps

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The frequency of traffic accidents has shot up at an alarming pace much to the shock and scare of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. If one goes by the reported cases of road accidents, the menace is taking a great toll on human lives now than it was ever before. The scene, particularly in Chinab Valley areas is too much worrisome. Some years back stray incidents of road accidents would occur here and there in the state but now it is three to five accidents a day with the deaths and wounded far exceeding the number of accidents.

There are over 700,000 vehicles in the state which make it very high number if other factors are also taken into consideration. The roads which are considered as the backbone for the proliferation of vehicles in any state or country, have become so constricted here that pedestrians find it hard to get along a road without fear of being hit by a passing vehicle. Obviously the government is lagging far behind in laying new roads so that the increasing flow of traffic could be regulated in a smooth manner without the roads getting congested, clogged or jammed for hours together. It is an ill-devised strategy to let the population of vehicles multiply unchecked to match the number of persons in the state in absence of the roads.

In the last 20 years, the number of vehicles has increased over ten-fold while as the space available in terms of roads has remained more or less static. No wonder chaos and confusion has become the characteristic feature of the roads in the entire state. This has rendered the plying vehicles as mobile angels of death rather than an item to assist human development.

Insult to the injury is that the Regional Transport Authorities are issuing permits without taking the road accommodation into consideration. With it the indiscriminate issuance of driving licenses to those who do not undergo any proper trainings and subsequent tests for securing the licenses as per the rules, makes the mess more fearsome. It is no wonder to see people in younger teens driving passenger vehicles without anyone taking notice of the killing trend. In most of the cases it is these untrained drivers who are seen hitting and crushing people to death or maimed for life.

If proper, comfortable and dependable public transport service is ensured, people will automatically be dissuaded from opting for a personal vehicle. In this regard also, the state miserably lacks a will. No attention is paid to the public transport service. Instead it is the greedy and unruly transports, drivers and conductors who operate the services at their sweet will and choice. So unreasonable and undependable are is the entire public transport system here that one wonders if at all anyone can call it a public utility service. It is pity that even the over-loading goes unchecked and unnoticed which also has taken a heavy toll of life in the state.

Knowing pretty well that the road condition in the state is not up to the required mark, authorities seem to have closed their eyes to this important aspect. Most of the drivers are abysmally lacking in the knowledge of traffic rules which leaves them to use their faulty instincts to negotiate the nasty and abrupt situations, always leading to the death of many people aboard the vehicle or pedestrians. It is opportune time to pay immediate heed to the matter so that frequency of road fatalities is brought down.

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