Supreme Court orders investigation of mass fatality crashes

Time to make Road Travel Safer in J&K
Supreme Court orders investigation of mass fatality crashes
Supreme Court of India. File/ GK

The Supreme Court of India has directed states and UTs to thoroughly investigate the cases of road crashes involving mass fatalities. The order assumes importance locally as J&K is among the worst affected in terms of Road Traffic Accidents.

In 2019, a comprehensive report on India’s Disease Burden titled, India: Health of Nation’s States described how in India road injuries had risen from 16th spot as the leading cause of death to 10th. However, if females are deducted from the data, then Road Injuries is the third leading cause of death in India among males.

Among the states and UTs, J&K was shown to have a grossly high incidence of road injuries and years of life lost to this cause. The disabilities caused by the road injuries in J&K are significantly high as per this report.

“Among the leading injuries individual causes, the DALY rate for road injuries was highest in Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Haryana, and Punjab, followed by Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh,” the report reads.

Now the SC has issued directions that a panel be set up in all states to attribute a cause of a road accident: bad engineering, signage, speeding or other. The Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety (SCCoRS) has expressed concern over the rising number of deaths and disabilities caused by Road Accidents.

“As Road accidents involve roads, motor vehicles, and also human beings, thus, road safety needs to be addressed on a holistic basis. It also recognizes that regardless of jurisdiction/s, the Central Government and State Governments have a joint responsibility in reducing the incidence of road accidents, injuries, and fatalities,” the committee recently noted.

The Committee while underlining the grave scenario of unsafe roads has said, there is “immense economic & financial hardship and emotional trauma to the affected families. There is an urgent need to make our roads safer because the loss of lives and limbs cannot be accepted as an inevitable consequence of mobility”.

While calling the Road Accidents a major public health issue, it has expressed concern that the victims are often from under-privileged backgrounds and the deaths and disabilities further push the families into a cycle of misery.

For years, the Ministry of Roads, Transport and Highways has urged the District Road Safety Committees to identify the spots that have recorded a certain number of accidents and tag these accident prone while simultaneously figuring out what causes accidents at these spots.

In J&K, the highway and the districts along the hilly terrains have innumerable such spots and every month scores of lives are lost in the accidents that take place over these.

The district-wise data for accidents and causes thereof is also required to be updated on an online portal for better monitoring of road safety.

It is time to take SC recommendations seriously and ensure safer roads. The massive burden of road traffic injuries and the overwhelming implications of these injuries needs to be treated as a major health concern, not just be brushed off as “unfortunate” incidents.

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