Deadly Curves, Deadly Speed: Will Jammu Ever Escape the Grip of Road Fatalities?

883 lives lost in 2023 ; 185 died till the end of March this year

The Akhnoor accident, in which 22 persons lost their lives on Thursday, has once again highlighted the risk of mishaps on roads here.

Even as roads in Jammu division are turning into ‘deathtraps’ for commuters, little is being done by the authorities to curb over-loading and over speeding, which have been identified as the major causes of accidents, claiming hundreds of lives every year.

After a major accident in Doda district on November 15 last year, in which 39 passengers died and 17 persons were injured, the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh had constituted a committee of experts to evaluate the situation and suggest preventive measures against the accidents. Besides, the traffic police and the Transport Department started a drive against violation of traffic norms soon after the Doda accident.

Even this year, 10 persons died when an SUV skidded off the Jammu-Srinagar NH and fell into a gorge in Ramban district on March 29.

According to an official report by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), 4,287 lives were lost in road accidents from 2018 to 2022 in J&K.

As per the official data by the traffic police, 883 persons were killed and 8,456 were injured in 6,288 accidents across the UT in 2023. Of these, 171 persons were killed in Jammu district. Even this year, 185 people lost their lives and 1,530 sustained injuries in 1,214 road accidents till the end of March.

In most of these accidents that took place in mountainous areas of Doda, Kishtwar or in Rajouri and Poonch, sharp curves and human error have been blamed for the mishaps.

The Division Bench of the High Court, comprising Chief Justice N Kotiswar Singh and Justice MA Chowdhary, had constituted a committee in December last year to inspect vulnerable spots on different highways. The order was issued as the Bench was hearing PILs highlighting casualties in road mishaps.

The committee report had highlighted deficiencies regarding the safety of roads on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, Batote-Kishtwar National Highway and even on the Mughal Road, which connects Rajouri and Poonch of Jammu division with Kashmir. It had also pointed out many black spots on these roads and recommended improvement to decrease the risk of accidents.

Asif Iqbal Butt, an activist on road safety, said the administration wakes up from its deep slumber whenever an accident takes place and goes to sleep thereafter.

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