Disciplining the traffic movement both within the city and beyond should be the prime task of all concerned. That necessitates the enforcement of provisions of the newly enacted transport law. Here, some unscrupulous practices, including bribe-taking, are seen as the major hurdles
A rights body -- Jatri Kallyan Samity (JKS) -- last Thursday unveiled a report saying that nearly 32,000 road crashes had claimed about 44,000 lives between 2015 and 2020. The disclosure coincided with the official observance of the National Road Safety Day on Friday last. According to the JKS data, road accidents across the country, on average, left 24 people dead and 50 more injured per day during those five years. The JKS compiled the data going through daily newspaper reports. The actual number of road accidents would be more since many road accidents go unreported.
There is no reason to believe that the number of road accidents per day has gone down during the current year. Even in 2020, when the movement of transports remained suspended because of Covid-related restrictions, 6,686 persons were killed and 8,600 injured in road accidents. The death on the roads, particularly on the highways, has been on the rise in recent years because of the continuous addition of numerous motorbikes to the existing vehicles. Rash driving by a section of motorbike riders has been a major reason behind the rising number of road accidents. For instance, 11 persons perished in road accidents in five districts in a couple of days of last week and seven of them were motorbike riders.
Road accidents have become routine events. None bothers much about those unless some high-profile people are found among the victims. Mishaps on air, rail and river routes not being so common tend to draw far greater public and media attention. The government, too, is not serious about reducing the number of road accidents, it seems. The relevant agencies, private and public, often talk about creating greater awareness among the transporters and passengers about road safety to help reduce the number of road accidents. But they are not truly serious about playing their part in such a campaign.
The Metropolitan Police in major cities from time to time observe traffic weeks to make the transport workers, commuters and pedestrians aware of the road safety and traffic rules. Such an endeavour, however, needs to be supplemented by actions against the deliberate violators of traffic rules that are in place to ensure road safety. Lack of awareness on the part of pedestrians in some cases is responsible for fatal road accidents, but rash driving by the men behind the steering remains the major cause.
The campaign to create awareness among the people about road safety has been weak. It needs to be strengthened. The curricula of the elementary level should have a chapter on road safety. On top of everything, disciplining the traffic movement both within the city and beyond should be the prime task of all concerned. That necessitates the enforcement of provisions of the newly enacted transport law. Here, some unscrupulous practices, including bribe-taking, are seen as the major hurdles. Relevant authorities have promised to deal with those to help restore discipline in the transport sector. Unfortunately, the promise has remained unmet for long. These agencies need to be far more proactive, given the rising casualty figures involving road accidents.