The Missing Cameras

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Most victims in road accidents are motorcyclists and pillion riders

THE year 2020 saw the road fatalities decreasing by 25 per cent in the state. According to police data, 223 persons died in road accidents in Goa last year as against 297 in the year 2019. The data has revealed that 89 percent of the victims of the road mishaps in the state were two-wheeler riders, pillion riders, pedestrians or cyclists. This percentage is higher than the national average of 78 percent as stated by the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari recently. According to the official data, 143 two-wheeler riders died in accidents in the state, while the number of pillion riders killed was 25. In addition to this human loss, 29 pedestrians, five passengers, two cyclists, 12 drivers and seven others were also killed in road accidents last year. The state recorded 2,375 accidents in the year 2020, of which 213 were fatal in nature. The authorities have attributed around 97 per cent of the accidents to rash and negligent driving or riding.

It is striking to observe that more accidents took place during day, rather than in night when the visibility is supposed to be poorer. A total of 1,487 accidents occurred during daytime, while 888 accidents occurred at night. The maximum number of accidents occurred between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. with around 80 percent of them occurring on straight roads, which shows the fault largely lay in rash and negligent driving. For almost a decade Goa has been recording around 300 or more deaths annually in road accidents. This is perhaps for the first time in over a decade that the number of deaths due to road accidents has come down drastically. The reduction in numbers of deaths is road mishaps is not due to discipline among the motorists or strict enforcement of the law but due to the ban on vehicular movements during the lockdown for two months in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and restricted movement of vehicles for a few more months. Going by the fatality figures, a prolonged lockdown saved many lives.

Rash and negligent driving was cited as the main cause for 97 percent of the accidents. However, the contributing factors, such as poor road engineering and bad conditions of roads in sections which drive motorists to go faster on relative smoother stretches. Many of the faults pointed out by experts, including blind spots, have still to be rectified. The ongoing digging works and the resultant traffic snarls also cause over speeding to catch up for the time lost and reach the destination in time. So rash and negligent driving is not the only cause. The government has itself accepted that road conditions are poor, the reason why it decided to put off implementation of the amended Motor Vehicle Act. The government said the Act would be implemented only when roads were in good condition. As far as rash and negligent driving is concerned, it is the government that too has to be blamed for negligent screening of over speeding. There are no cameras or other equipment to record speed violations.

In recent months the state roads have witnessed increase in vehicular movement which has reached, if not exceeded, the pre-coronavirus pandemic level. At least one death is being reported every day in road accidents. The situation could take a turn for the worse unless the government enforces measures to curb violations and make sure drivers adhere to road discipline. Now that most of the works on road widening are in an advanced stage and expected to be completed in days ahead, the authorities should ensure that cameras to detect violations and road indiscipline are fitted along the routes, rather than deploying officials on roads to check breaches of laws as they only lead to snarls. Let us hope that blind spots and other accident-prone zones are rectified. The state authorities should not seek to lower the guard in view of lesser road accidents recorded last year but ensure that there was no complacency in the implementation of the Motor Vehicle Act and the public works department rectifies the faults in road engineering.