Lack of infrastructure and callous driving has made Jammu and Kashmir one of those areas where deaths due to road accidents are highest. The percentage of deaths due to road accidents in the state is highest in the country.
Statistically in the year 2013 as per a report called Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India 2013, 63.5 per cent deaths in J&K were due to accidents alone. The second position is occupied by Nagaland where road accident account for 52 per cent of all unnatural deaths. The total registered vehicles in the state is 917000. The report says that the accidental deaths per 1000 vehicles in J&K is 1.1 percent as compared 0.9 percent in the country. Two wheelers are the most dangerous and responsible for fatal accidents.
Blaming bad infrastructure and bad driving for the same, SSP traffic Haseeb-ur-Rehman told U4U voice that poor quality of roads, and lack of training is the biggest cause of accidents. “Our drivers aren’t fully trained with the result they drive without following rules and regulations”, he adds.
Talking about the types of roads he says: “We have two types of roads here, plain and hilly. When it comes to hills the accidents rise.” In plain roads he says it is mostly the negligence of drivers which leads to accidents but in hilly areas causalities are maximum because of bad condition of roads.
Deaths and accidents in majority in hilly areas and it is only because the roads are poorly built in these areas, he adds.
Citing the example of Doda, Rehman says that this road is more prone to accidents because the roads here lie in shambles.
People here blame the authorities for failing to build proper roads. “The indifferent attitude of authorities towards us has lead to huge loss of life here,” says Shahnawaz, a student and a resident of Doda.
This road is being travelled by hundreds of people everyday which they say is like risking their lives. Same is the case with Bhaderwah including the Batote-Kishtwar national highway, where the condition of roads is worst.
In Srinagar lack of dividers is also considered to be another reason for the fatalities or injuries. “Because of no road dividers the vehicles take turns anywhere which also increases the chances of accident,” Rehman adds.
Quoting example of HMT accident which took place recently Rehman says it also happened because of lack of dividers. “Army and a local vehicle were driving in opposite direction at a very high speed which led to head on collision. Had there been a divider this tragic accident would have had never happened.”
In Kashmir Rehman says unemployment is rampant and youth who fail to get any job buy a second hand vehicle and begin to earn their livelihood through it.
Untrained drivers come on the road, says the police official, adding it increases the percentage of accidents only. When a driver isn’t trained he is of course risking lives of both himself as well as of his passengers.
Stressing upon the fact the there should be stringent laws for acquiring a licence so that the risk can be diverted. “Not everyone here has a commercial licence which is a big issue in itself. People procure ordinary licences and cause accidents,” he adds.
He further says that rules should be such that violators should think before breaking laws. The fine imposing process should be made stricter. Licence of these violators should be cancelled so that they would think many times before any violation.
Frightened by the road accident scenario people say they prefer to drive slowly rather than rushing in hurry.
“Almost every day we get to hear about the news of road accidents. With everyday I believe the frequency of death by accidents is increasing,” says Javaid Ahmad, a govt employee. It is only when all stakeholders including road users, drivers, commuters, police and transporters understand the massive loss caused to our families and society would they understand that accidents are preventable if precautions are taken.