Accidents are on the rise, need to refocus on road safety

| SEPTEMBER 23, 2022, 11:55 PM IST

Goa has witnessed a spurt in fatal road accidents in recent months, bringing to the fore questions of road safety and the lack of focus on road maintenance and managing traffic movement. On Friday, two separate accidents claimed the lives of two citizens. The accident-prone areas at Karmal Ghat in Canacona and the Chimbel junction continue to be trouble spots for motorists. The increasing highway traffic and the pathetic road conditions paint a grim picture.

While Goa has been lately in the grip of an intense drug war and land grab cases grabbing headlines, road safety has been relegated to the sidelines, and precious lives are being lost steadily. Poor roads, lack of proper road lights and road signboards and warning signs and a failure in road policing have contributed significantly to the situation.

The recent accidents have been not only grave but are enough to ring alarm bells. The SUV that plunged into the Zuari river in July, killing all four occupants, followed by the death of 3 members of a family who died in a collision between two cars at Rajbag-Tahrir, Canacona and a series of other accidents that have claimed lives in the past three months are indicators that the situation is only getting worse.

Goa's traffic is getting crowded, but it can't be the sole cause. According to statistics, Goa tops the country in terms of the number of households that own vehicles, with over eight in 10 families having a two-wheeler and nearly half of that number possessing a car. Transport officials have concluded that the high density of vehicles is leading to traffic chaos which is significantly responsible for the high rate of accidents. It was also reported that rash, negligent, and drunken driving are the major causes of the high accident rate in Goa.

However, blaming the density of traffic alone will not help because the State cannot restrict the sale of vehicles. What we should be focussing on are better roads and traffic management. The road conditions, including the highways, continue to be horrible, throwing in an element of uncertainty in life. It sets an awful precedent that the High Court has to intervene on roads and potholes and issue deadlines. On Wednesday, the High Court directed the State government and PWD to complete the repair of all potholes, especially along the highways, within four weeks from September 21.

It is sad that the system reacts only to tragedies, emotions and court directives. It took the dreadful accident at Zuari bridge for police to bring out alcometers and restart drunken driving checks. It takes accidents at Canacona or Chimbel to get the system working. It takes accidents to trigger action, albeit momentarily. Goa has witnessed over 130 fatal accidents this year out of the nearly 1,500 mishaps reported.

It's high time the State government takes road safety very seriously. The issue has to be addressed, keeping in mind the security of lives. Road policing needs to be scaled up, accident-prone areas need to be studied, and indeed, Goans need better roads, if not the world-class ones promised.

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