Road Safety Audit

I n fact, Road Safety Audit should be a regular periodic exercise rather than as a result of the pinch arising of it only when a heart rending road accident takes place. By doing it mandatorily regularly by an experienced and expert team quite conversant with the road safety norms, we come to know about the road safety performance and flaws therein, if any, to rectify speedily which otherwise could prove costly. The need of such road audit becomes all the more necessary if a road widening exercise or any other scheme involving road construction, designing or any layout schedules are underway or completed so that road worthiness could be declared by such expert teams. Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha recently directing for carrying out road safety audit and taking rectification measures, is in recognition of the dire need of knowing whether our roads especially the National Highway were worthy enough for performing or not and were not contributing towards causing of road accidents. While five persons travelling in a car were recently killed near sensitive area of Digdol after the car skidded off the road and fell into a 300 metre deep nallah on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, at the same time an in-depth enquiry only would reveal the exact cause of accident but apart from ascertaining the road worthiness, whether road safety norms, traffic rules and driving discipline were all followed equally, is also required to be known. Pertinent to mention is the need equally of evaluating the level of presence of the Traffic Police, its vigil and the efforts to contain traffic and driving indiscipline and breaking of safety rules by errant drivers so as to prevent the accidents of the nature under reference. Traffic Police must invariably have its presence at vulnerable points along the National Highway to see whether traffic norms and driving guidelines were meticulously followed. There was absolutely no fun in doing panic exercises and that too for some short period following a tragic accident taking precious lives. The ill fated speeding car hitting another one before plunging into the deep gorge bears testimony to the fact that the vehicle ostensibly in breach of traffic guidelines was over-speeding and carrying extra occupant passenger, lost control of the vehicle to cause the accident. Various after – reports and “enquiries” have brought out the causes of road accidents on the hilly terrains of Jammu and Kashmir as either the vehicles were over loaded with passengers or the vehicles were over speeding as again in the instant case. So, prima- facia, a combination of the two vital factors, flagrant violations of norms, contributed to happening of this accident, the driver losing the control of the vehicle as a consequence. Drivers on this hilly route fairly know that there was absolutely no scope, not even in the least, to over speed especially right along the sensitive areas of Ramban- Ramsu – Banihal belt. The need to have Trauma (Medical) Care Centres along the National Highway is all the more important especially at nearer to most vulnerable areas on the National Highway as was promised by the Health Department early this year. The ”promise” must be pursued to translating into a reality, at least at Ramban, Qazigund and between Udhampur and Batote stations. Agreed, much of the resources and priorities of the Health Department are currently diverted, and rightly so, in managing the dreaded Corona- virus pandemic but side by side, establishing ”workable” Trauma Centres could save many critically injured accident victims. Raising steel or concrete parapets on the side of the gorges /river at vulnerable points along the National Highway is extremely important to prevent or minimise the extent and the impact of road accidents of this nature.