Road safety has once again come up as a major concern in Uttarakhand where 680 people lose their life in highway accidents every year, according to the union ministry of road transport and highways report tabled in Parliament recently.
One of the reasons for these mishaps in the state is that around 15 national highways crisscross Uttarakhand, linking various cities and suburbs along their way, making them accessible to daily commuters, experts said.
They suggested multiple measures, like fixing speed limits for heavy vehicles, building over bridges and slip roads on the patches that pass through populated areas. But, they admitted that it could take some time as these highways have a total length of 2415 km in the state with the longest of 373 km being the one which connects the Delhi - Ghaziabad - Badrinath national highway to the last Indian village Mana.
The experts said the situation was not much alarming in the state as yet when compared to the other states where the number of deaths is much higher. But, if the situation wasn’t addressed now, then road safety could become a major problem in Uttarakhand.
According to the union ministry figures, the neighbouring state of Himachal Pradesh surpasses Uttarakhand with 3655 deaths on its national highways during 2012 and 2014. Whereas, Uttarakhand recorded only 2178 deaths during the same period.
The breakup figures for the last three years show 828 highway deaths were reported in 2012. This came down to 681 in 2013 and 669 in 2014. However, the road safety experts said that the drop in the figures over the past three years in no way mitigated the threat on the highways.
Anoop Nautiyal, the former chief executive officer of 108 emergency ambulance service now known as National Ambulance Service, said, “More lives could be saved with better emergency facilities. The Uttarakhand government should focus on this.”
He cites poor condition of roads at several patches besides rash driving as the major reason behind the accidents.
Cause of alarm
According to the ministry figures, Tamil Nadu is the most dangerous state as far as deaths on the national highways are concerned. On an average 20,000 people are killed every year here owing to a number of reasons. The other states with higher death figures are Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Maharastra.
Tamil Nadu has 5,684 km stretch of 28 national highways. Similarly, Himachal Pradesh has 1506 km long 12 national highways while Delhi has 80 km long stretch with eight national highways.
The ministry report says that the central government has approved a national road safety policy which address highway problems through a number of steps, like promoting awareness, establishing road safety information data base, encouraging safer road infrastructure including application of intelligent transport, enforcement of safety laws etc.