Reckless driving, use of life expired vehicles among main causes: Committee of Experts

Increasing road accidents on Batote-Doda-Kishtwar Highway
*Several recommendations made to prevent loss of lives

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, June 3: A Committee of Experts constituted on the directions of the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh has held reckless driving, use of life expired vehicles and fatigue of drivers responsible for increasing road accidents on Batote-Doda-Kishtwar National Highway. Moreover, it has made several recommendations to prevent loss of lives.
In compliance to the directions of the High Court in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) titled Intakhab Ahmed Qasi Versus J&K and Others, Government constituted a Committee of Experts vide Order No.247-JK(GAD) dated February 20, 2003 headed by Engineer-in-Chief (Secretary Technical) PWD (R&B) Department.
The committee in its report submitted to the Government has mentioned that majority of the road accidents in the belt were due to over-speeding, reckless overtaking and driving under the influence of liquor.
“The accidents are not limited to road alignment only but also have broader co-relation with driver’s state of mind, fatigue, condition of vehicle and weather conditions”, read the report of the committee, the copy of which is available with EXCELSIOR. It has also pointed out use of life expired vehicles on this highway as a cause of accidents.
The Committee of Experts has suggested strict enforcement of speed limit by installation of cameras and speed trackers/ radars at regular intervals along the route and start of breathe alcohol tests by the enforcement agencies at specified locations and initiation of strict action against the violators including registration of FIRs.
Further, the committee has stressed that regular vehicle inspections should be conducted by the concerned agencies so that use of life expired vehicles in the hilly terrains is completely prevented. Checking overtaking by erecting dividers at vulnerable spots, fixation of automatic speed control devices in passenger vehicles, provision of sufficient transport facility including electric SRTC buses in hilly terrains to prevent overloading and launch of mass traffic awareness campaigns and counseling sessions for drivers of passenger vehicles are the other recommendations of the committee.
The National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) has conveyed to the Committee of Experts that highway stretch from Batote to Khellani is under maintenance contract and road safety equipment like metallic crash barriers, delineators and road studs have been installed at every black spot and sharp curve.
“Nine black spots were identified by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and NHIDCL authorities have rectified the same”, the report said, adding “stretch from Khellani to Kishtwar is being upgraded to two lane status with paved shoulders having a width of 7.5 meter to 10 meter along with improvement of sharp curves and installation of metallic crash barriers ensuring safety of road commuters”.
As far as 3 kilometer road length being maintained by the Public Works (R&B) Department of Government of J&K Union Territory, metallic crash barriers are required for about 2000 meter length against which 1000 meter has already been installed and balance length will be completed by ending June 2023, the report said.
Now, the Committee of Experts has decided to convene a joint inspection of Doda-Khellani-Kishtwar road before submitting its final recommendations to the Government.
“The report of the Committee of Experts clearly establishes that concerned agencies have failed to strictly implement Motor Vehicle Rules as checking reckless driving, use of life-expired vehicles and driving under the influence of liquor is the duty of the officials of the Motor Vehicle Department, Traffic Police and police of concerned Police Stations”, sources said.
They stressed that Government should increase the number of Traffic Police personnel and officials of the Motor Vehicle Department in this area so as to ensure proper checking of passenger vehicles and their drivers.