These figures hurt: as per the Traffic and Highways Department of Haryana, 5,118 persons were killed in road accidents in the state in 2018; in 2017, the number of precious lives lost on the road was 5,120; and in 2016, the fatalities touched 5,024. Those injured in the mishaps in each of these three years were nearly double the death casualty. What is more hurtful is the story revealed by these statistics: with the death toll hovering around 5,100 each year, the state and national highways crisscrossing Haryana continue to be unsafe, snuffing out a shocking 14 lives per day in 31 accidents, on an average. Commuters must reach their destinations safe and sound rather than fall prey to death traps.
There is hardly any traveller who can claim to have not felt his heart in his mouth as he had a close shave with another vehicle on an Indian highway. Rashly driven vehicles, overloaded trucks and buses, drivers speeding past, caring two hoots for traffic rules, are all too commonly witnessed both inside towns and cities and on highways. Not only do such drivers put their own lives at risk with reckless and irresponsible behaviour, but even innocent passersby going about their business in right earnest many a time have to pay with their limbs or lives. A little carelessness by one person behind the wheel can ruin another, both physically and financially. It is no surprise that the main causes of accidents have been identified as rash driving, wrong parking, poor road engineering, drunken driving, overloading and speeding.
As the road safety week begins on February 4, the authorities and people of Haryana need to resolve to abide by traffic rules and not just indulge in empty sloganeering. Accidents are very much avoidable. Education about road safety and rules must begin in schools. Only if every road user drives carefully and those violating rules are fined heavily will the mishap rate drop. The authorities must review accident-prone spots, width of roads and lanes as also weed out incompetent drivers obtaining licences fraudulently and unroadworthy vehicles. We have tolerated far too much death and mayhem on our roads.