SRINAGAR: While the government is maintaining that it is trying to make roads safe, every year around 1000 people lose their lives in road accidents in the state.
J&K has also topped the list of “high accidental death-prone areas” in a National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) survey.
The survey has found that an accident in Jammu and Kashmir State has a 64 percent chance of causing death as opposed to 36.4 percent for all of India.
Data also shows that more than half of those killed in road accidents were in the productive age group of 15 to 34, pointing to a calamitous loss of young lives.
"This is a public health emergency that requires immediate action. As a state, we are slowly waking up to the fact that we lead in road crash deaths and injuries", experts say.
"Unfortunately, we are at a primitive stage of resolving this issue. We are still trying to understand that every road death is preventable, and that there are solutions which have been tried, tested and found to be successful in outside countries. To defeat this growing menace of road traffic accidents, there is an immediate need to take some determined action today,” the expert in traffic management said.
He said that under Jammu & Kashmir State Road Safety Policy, the Government should increase its efforts to promote awareness about the various aspects of road safety, the social and economic implications of road accidents and what needs to be done to curb the rising menace of road accidents.
According to the official figures, around 6,000 road accidents have been reported annually for the last two years in the state. The actual number according to police officials would be much higher as lots of such incidents go unreported. In 2015, 917 people lost their lives in 5,800 road accidents. In 2016, 910 lives were claimed and over 8,000 suffered injuries by road accidents in the state. That means three people die on an average daily in the state.
Between 2011 and 2014, 3960 people lost their lives by road accidents and more than 30,000 people were injured in over 20,000 road accidents. The absence of trauma centres on highways in the state lead to delays and contribute to fatalities.
“The number of road accidents in Jammu and Kashmir which claim around one thousand lives per year is double than the national average based on population of the state,” a top traffic Police official said.
“Over 60 percent of the total natural deaths had been caused by road accidents in Jammu and Kashmir while the national average is around 30 percent,” he added.
He said it was not only the job of Traffic department to reduce the road accidents but “everyone has to get involved then only such incidents could be avoided”.
Most of the road accidents had happened in twin capitals of the state and Ramban and Doda districts of the Jammu region.
The Chenab valley in Jammu region, particularly Doda district, with tough terrain had witnessed a steep increase in the accidents over the past few years. Increase in number of vehicles, less road length, faulty roads, negligent driving and worn out vehicles are among the reasons seen for growing accidents in J&K.
According to the official figures available with Regional Transport Office (RTO) Kashmir, about 5,000 new private vehicles are added to the roads in Kashmir every month and state has around 14 lakh vehicles with 6.5 lakh in the valley alone.
Earlier, a House Committee under the chairmanship of MLA Kulgam Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami submitted its report in April 2012, and the panel had come up with a slew of recommendations to the TranSport department, Traffic department, R&B department and other agencies concerned for curbing the growing road accidents.
Increase in number of vehicles, less road length, faulty roads, negligent driving and worn out vehicles are among the reasons seen for growing accidents in J&K, the committee has said.
However, official sources said the government has failed to adhere the recommendations of the committee.
The government in 2015 had set up a ‘Lead Agency’ to act as the secretariat of the State Road Safety Council and coordinate all activities relating to the road safety in the state, which would include the functions of various departments. “The setting up of the agency has been confined to papers only,” an official said.
A senior traffic official said the Traffic department has taken several measures to reduce the number of traffic accidents. “The Police is taking action against the traffic violators. The negligence is the main reason for road accidents but there are also other reasons like the one that took place on Srinagar-Jammu highway on Tuesday and bad roads in the state,” the official said.