J&K continues to grapple with deadly road accidents

SRINAGAR, OCT 21: The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has been marred by a relentless wave of deadly road accidents, claiming hundreds of innocent lives over several decades.
On Thursday, in a tragic road accident, seven people lost their lives in two separate accidents in the Jammu division.
In the first incident, tragedy struck when a truck loaded with apples met with an accident on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, on the outskirts of Jammu.
The accident claimed the lives of four individuals, including the truck’s driver and conductor, as the vehicle collided with the bridge divider before plummeting 70 to 80 feet. The truck was en route from Kashmir to Jammu when the catastrophe unfolded.
In a separate incident in Kishtwar district, three individuals lost their lives in a fatal car accident.
The persistent occurrence of road accidents, particularly on high-altitude routes, has spurred concern among residents.
Many believe that immediate attention from the government is required to address the perilous state of these roads, which have become a significant cause of fatalities.
Mohammad Yousuf, a senior resident of Kishtwar, emphasized the need for road improvements, stating, “Scores of people die due to road accidents in Poonch, Rajouri, Udhampur, Kishtwar, Ramban, and Doda every winter. In many spots, the roads are narrow and need to be widened. Similarly, fencing and macadamization are also required in higher reaches so that such incidents can be prevented.”
He added, “The lack of vigilance leads to reckless driving on these treacherous roads, and passengers have no choice but to travel, despite being fully aware of the dangers, as their work commitments necessitate daily commuting.”
According to reports, preliminary analysis indicates that accidents are predominantly concentrated around highways, far removed from many urban areas.
Experts suggest that a myriad of factors have contributed to the surge in accidents.
Mohammad Aslam, a senior citizen in Srinagar, pointed out that only a few erring drivers are brought to justice in most road accident cases, with many cases, particularly those on highways, closed as ‘not traced.’
Insiders from the transport department revealed that in the past, a major factor contributing to reckless driving was the ease with which licenses could be obtained. Licenses were issued to minors and untrained drivers without mandatory driving tests. However, the system has since been overhauled to ensure transparency, and licenses are now issued only after fulfilling all formalities, including the mandatory driving test.
Jammu and Kashmir topped the list of “high accidental death-prone areas” in a National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) survey conducted in 2013, with an accident in the state having a 64 percent chance of causing death, as opposed to 36.4 percent for all of India.
A concerned social activist stressed the need for immediate action, saying, “This is a public health emergency that requires immediate action. We are slowly waking up to the fact that we lead in road crash deaths and injuries. Unfortunately, we are at a primitive stage of resolving this issue. To defeat this growing menace of road traffic accidents, there is an immediate need to take determined action today.”
However, sources said that the LG administration has asked the traffic police to increase patrolling on the national highways, particularly in the areas of Srinagar Jammu National Highway.
“There are standard rules and instructions for vehicle drivers about how to drive safely in mountainous regions but unfortunately the vehicle drivers are not following the standard rules for road safety,” they said.
“The graph of road accidents shows that most of the road accidents happen owing to the fault of the drivers and only few owing to the fault of pedestrians. It means that the transport authorities have to focus on why the drivers are the main cause of accidents and how that situation can be brought under control,” one of the officials of the government said.
The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has conducted research on the reasons for increasing road accidents in JK and has observed that the lack of education, enforcement, engineering and emergency is the main reason for the growing number of accidents.
According to local media reports, Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed a staggering 76,942 road accidents between 2010 and 2022, resulting in 12,429 fatalities and 1,04,983 injuries. The data underlines the alarming frequency of accidents in the union territory.
The data compiled by the traffic department reveals a concerning upward trend in accidents.
Quoting the traffic police data, the reports had said that in the 12 last years, on average, more than 12000 people died and 8748 were injured due to accidents of different natures across the Union Territory.
Inter-district routes of the hilly areas are so dangerous and consume so many lives on a daily routine due to slides and other bad road conditions apart from rash and unprofessional driving.
As per data compiled by the traffic department, in 2010, a total of 1073 persons were killed while 8655 people were injured in 6120 accidents.
In 2011, 1121 persons were killed and 9944 injured in a total of 6644 accidents. In 2012, the death toll rose to 1165, while 9755 persons were injured in 6709 road accidents.
In 2013, 990 persons died, around 8681 persons were injured in 6469 accidents.
In 2014, 992 persons were injured and 8043 were injured in 5861 accidents.
In 2015, 917 people were injured and 8142 persons were injured in 5836 accidents.
In 2016, 958 were killed and 7677 were injured in 5501 accidents. In 2017, 926 were killed and the injured were 7419 in 5624 accidents. In 2018, 984 people were injured and 7845 injured in 5978 accidents. In 2019, a total of 996 persons were killed, and 7532 were injured in 5796 accidents.
In 2020 and 2021, the two years of the COVID pandemic, 728 and 774 people were killed respectively. As many as 5894 persons were injured in 4860 accidents during 2020 while 6972 were injured in 5452 during 2021.
The accident graph again shows an upward trend and the number of accidents shoot up to 805 in 2022. Moreover, 8372 people were injured in 6092 accidents during this period.

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