At least 110 people have lost their lives in 709 road accidents in the first two months of 2017 in J&K, the official data reveals. In addition, 907 people were injured, 91 of them critically. Jammu and Kathua districts recorded 19 deaths each, highest in the state, followed by Ramban with15 deaths. In Kashmir division, Srinagar district witnessed the highest number of deaths. In the district, 35 accidents claimed six lives, followed by Baramulla with three deaths.
Tyre bursts or skidding are the major reasons for accidents. Though police and road safety experts continually urge motorists to check their tyres to avoid blowouts, especially when the summer heat kicks in, it is only when such regretful incidents happen that people seem to fully realise the danger. Its essential that owners and drivers of passenger and commercial vehicles conform to road safety requirements and ensure periodical and comprehensive maintenance of both the vehicle and the tyres, ahead of the strong heat of the summer.
The authorities have repeatedly warned motorists that installing low-quality or counterfeit tyres, which are the main culprits behind tyre punctures, is punishable by vehicle impoundment. Individual responsibility is paramount when it comes to public safety, particularly that of those who are responsible for transporting so many lives.
The growing numbers of casualties reflect the need to continue to work towards changing the prevailing driving culture.
Establishing measures and regulations to enforce equivalent norms on passenger buses and commercial vehicles would go a long way. So too would subjecting drivers to identical training, and enforcing similar stringent regulations on matters of safety and maintenance on vehicle owners.
Personal vehicles must be well-maintained, but commercial vehicles are under much greater stress: they are bigger, carry heavier loads and are driven longer and farther. Given the seriousness of the matter, perhaps authorities could set up spot inspections for vehicles, pulling commercial vehicles off the roads to check tyres, suspension, lights and so on. There are relatively simple solutions to these issues; in a country with so many good roads, it is foolish for people to lose their lives over the price of a new tyre.
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