The Srinagar-Jammu National Highway has seen over 8,000 road accidents and 1,750 resultant fatalities in the last one decade, official data reveals.
As per the data compiled by J&K Traffic Police Department and District Police Ramban, the highway has seen 8,128 road accidents resulting into 1,750 deaths and injuries to 12,131 persons between 2010 and 2020.
The treacherous stretch of the highway from Banihal to Chanderkote alone has seen 858 deaths in the accidents.
Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) J&K Traffic, T Namgyal attributed the highway accidents to the increasing volume of traffic and the rocky terrain.
“It would take three to four years to stabilize the highway. Till then the authorities can do very little to prevent fatal accidents especially on the treacherous stretch from Banihal to Chanderkote,” the ADGP told Greater Kashmir.
Namgyal said that the vulnerability of the highway often leads to stranding of the vehicles on the road “for a couple or more days”. He said this phenomenon exhausts the drivers and “they often meet accidents when sleep overtakes them”.
In reply to a question, the officer said that the installation of crash barriers and reflectors on the road was not possible “in view of continuous blasting of mountains and tunnelling going on along the highway”.
The ADGP also blamed the drivers/travellers for “not following the traffic advisory seriously”, which he said is the main reason for massive gridlocks on the highway.
He advised people to avoid travelling on the highway during night in view of the shooting stones from mountains.
Junaid Nazir, a road safety expert and RTI activist said: “A lot of bad engineering and unnecessary barricades on the highway are the major reasons contributing to the accidents.”
He added that there are not enough “super elevations” on the curves which makes turns on the highway vulnerable.
Junaid suggested that the several important measures should have been taken before embarking on the four-laning project of the highway, to prevent accidents. “Unfortunately, only a little was done that too after the damage had been done,” he said.