Need for a robust system to reduce risks to life on roads
Though the figures of fatal road accidents in the state have been generally on decline since 2018, the number is still a matter of great human concern. In the first five and half months of the current year over 120 persons lost their lives in 1,500 road accidents. Most of the road accidents (over 90 per cent) were attributed to over speeding, rash and negligent driving. A high rate of growth in the vehicle population is also behind the accidents. Goa is among the states which have very high rate of accidental deaths. Many of those killed are innocent people who happened to be on the road at the wrong time and are victims of senseless driving, as the accident that took place on the Siolim-Chopdem bridge on Sunday showed. It is not enough on the roads to drive carefully and according to traffic rules to save one’s life, because there are others who would not drive carefully, endangering their and others’ lives.
The accident that took place on the Siolim-Chopdem bridge was heart wrenching. A family of four returning home after attending a feast in their car was hit by a sports utility vehicle. The Maharashtra-registered SUV had jumped the lane in an attempt to overtake a vehicle in front of it and collided with the car in which the family was driving, causing the death of the father and son seated in the front. Two others sitting at the back have been seriously injured and are struggling for life. Scores of accidents due to rash and negligent driving take place which result in death or injuries to the occupants of vehicles. Breaking of rules and driving in an undisciplined manner is the order of the day. Owners of cars, motorcycles and commercial vehicles violate traffic rules without any sense of fear which results in accidents. The concerned officials of the transport and police departments have cannot afford to relax. They have to intensify their punitive campaigns in order to instill fear in the minds of habitual and casual violators of traffic rules. They pose risks to everyone and must be dealt with without any mercy.
Despite the knowledge that rash and negligent driving is the major cause of most road accidents, the law enforcement officials have not been able take deterrent action against most of the errant drivers. After irate local people set on fire the SUV that hit the vehicle on the Siolim-Chopdem bridge, senior police officials advised people not to ‘take the law into their hands.’ However, police officials should not live under any illusion about recurrence of such outbursts of local people. People do not have full faith in the efficacy and efficiency of the police in cases relating to road accidents. It arises primarily from their experience that violations of rules go on without check. One of the proofs of lack of confidence in police can be available from the fact that though a large number of accidents take place not every incident is reported to the police; the parties reach a “settlement”. Had the state authorities gone ahead with the proposal to install closed circuit television cameras to capture accidents and identify those responsible for them it would have been easier to collect evidence and get the guilty punished. This would also have helped reduce the incidence of over speeding and rash and negligent driving.
The police issue challans to two-wheeler riders for not wearing helmets but not all those who indulge in over-speeding and rash and negligent driving get booked as the officials are ill-equipped to handle such cases in absence of required gadgets. If the officials take swift and effective action to reduce the risks from wild drivers the public would not take the law into their hands and be ready to assist them. The onus is on the enforcement officials to inspire confidence among the people by building a robust system for catching drivers for overtaking, over-speeding and rash and negligent driving. The officials should use technologies like CCTVs to identify violators and set up surprise teams to check and punish violators throughout the state.