On preventing road accidents

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Going by the newspaper reports, there seem to be an ever increasing number of road mishaps and accidents taking place in the state. It is not out of the ordinary to learn about someone, somewhere, getting knocked down by a vehicle or vehicles getting involved in accidents causing fatalities. As the frequency of these accidents and road mishaps increase we can only ignore it at our peril. The time has come for the concerned agencies and policy makers to go into the causes, frame policies and implement them on ground sincerely so as to save precious lives being lost for no rhyme or reason. Every little thing, every little mistake can trigger off an accident, so it is important to minimize these small little mistakes which might lead to loss of a human life. First among the various other factors which together have contributed to making roads and by lanes of Manipur unsafe is the increasing vehicular population. As per the records of the Transport Department, the total number of registered vehicles registered till December 2012 which include both heavy and light vehicles is 2, 24,056.The State Assembly did pass the Motor Vehicles Taxation (Amendment) Bill, 2011, which other than enriching the state’s coffers also aimed to discourage people from buying vehicles through various disincentives like introduction of green tax etc. But as of yet it does not seem to have the desired effect, for, in the past couple of years the number of vehicles in the state is increasing roughly at the rate of 40,000 vehicles per year. Compounding the problem of this alarming increase in vehicular population is the utter inadequacy of roads in the state, both in terms of quantity and quality. There are just not enough roads for the burgeoning fleet of vehicles in the city area and quality of the roads even bang in the centre of the city is pitiable. The road condition in the interior and remote areas is much worse with many roads just not motorable at all. The less said about the only functional lifelines of Manipur, the better, its condition has not seen any improvement for years now, if anything it has only worsened. Driving in such condition, as it should be obvious to anybody, is not going to be without any pitfall. Another factor which is contributing to these road mishaps and accidents is the quality of drivers. Most of those behind the wheels, especially the younger lot have not gone through any training or driving test before getting their driving license through the back door by greasing some palms. It is only to be expected that these drivers will not be aware of the nuances of driving, of driving etiquette and rules, thereby putting their lives and those of others in danger. Most of the hit and run cases can be traced to such drivers and the spoiled brats with big SUVs who think the roads belong to them, you have to make way for them or pay with your lives. On this list, we can also add vehicles of police and security forces who flaunt all traffic norms in the course of their ‘duty’. To make roads in this state safer, less prone to mishaps and accidents, certain things need to be done simultaneously, which would include putting a cap in the number of vehicles on the road at a particular time, increasing roads available, improving the quality of roads, issuing driving license only after strictly following the due process, spreading awareness about traffic rules and etiquettes and strictly implementing traffic rules without fear and favour.  Time to pay attention to these various aspects of avoiding accidents before we loose more limbs and lives.

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