ROAD SAFETY WEEK

Road accidents being leading cause of death and injuries worldwide, therefore ‘Road Safety’ continues to be a major developmental and public health concern as of today. For India this issue holds utmost significance as the nation continues to be on the forefront at the global level in terms of maximum deaths in road mishaps. While the 34th National Road Safety Week that commences today and will conclude on 17th January under the ‘Swachhata Pakhwada-2023’ the running theme ‘Sadak Suraksha Jeevan Raksha’ will continue to be the main focus in all times to come. Like every year the aim of observing this week is to make the roads and streets safer by spreading awareness about how to avoid accidents and injuries while on the road. Recognizing road accidents as a leading cause of deaths in the country, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India has called for a joint effort of the state and central governments to facilitate the improvement of road and safety infrastructure and to reduce casualties and mortality. The situation here in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is all the more grim with frequent accidents on the highways especially in the hilly areas taking toll of precious lives.  While the situation might appear rather grim, people themselves need to come together and become the change-makers more than ever before. Past experience bears testimony to the fact that during the Road Safety Week the men in blue abruptly come out of slumber and gear up for action against the traffic violators and at the end of the week they again seem to go into hibernation till the next year. The result is that the saga of road accidents continues to maintain an upward trend in this Union Territory. As usual after every fatal accident the government comes forward with few words of sympathy besides announcing ex-gratia relief to the next of kin of those killed along with monetary help to the injured. While the families victimized by such accidents continue to bear the brunt and haunted for the whole life, it is quite sarcastic that everyone else including the government forget the incident. Primarily the officers of Traffic department, the Transport department and of course those entrusted with the road building and its safety along with allied  agencies pass strict instructions and directions to the ground level staff but unfortunately practical implementation in letter and spirit can be seen lacking. It is a fact that situation on ground will not improve unless the people cooperate and understand that they also have a responsibility in this regard, but most of the times it has been seen that it is due to dereliction of duty on the part of men in blue that encourages certain elements to resort to traffic violations. After making a meticulous analysis of the situation viz-a-viz traffic safety it is crystal clear that it is the Traffic Department of Police and the Transport Department of this Union Territory which will have to share the blame for the traffic mess as a result of which precious lives are being lost. Maximum accidents on highways occur on account of excessive overloading by the drivers probably in connivance with the men in blue besides the worst condition of vehicles being plied especially in the far flung areas with Transport Department turning a blind eye to the shortcomings while approving such vehicles. Even the road construction agencies especially the road planners seem to be more focussed on connectivity rather than safety due to which any technical snag can lead straightway to death of the passengers in absence of strong barriers along the highways especially in areas along deep gorges. It is hoped that all the concerned agencies seriously consider the factors highlighted in this regard and frame a plausible strategy to stop traffic violations, ensure road safety and save precious lives. This would be possible only if the high level officers personally monitor the situation on ground and find out the reasons for the failure in implementation of their directions on ground. So let’s all strive to do our part to ensure that we receive what we deserve i.e. safer roads and safer communities, once and for all.