Driving in this district is no less than a nightmare, with narrow and potholed roads, increasing number of vehicles on the road, overloading and overspeeding, vehicles with illegally-extended chassis, use of drugs, and in many cases, untrained drivers.
The situation is made worse by the "careless" attitude of the traffic police and district transport department, as little is done to make violators follow traffic rules, allege residents.
School vans, autorickshaws, three-wheelers, trucks, buses and other vehicles can be seen openly flouting traffic rules without any check, with schoolchildren indulging in triple-riding on two-wheelers.
"Road safety does not seem to be a priority for our government. We all pay road tax on our vehicles, but roads are no longer safe, especially for two-wheelers and pedestrians. Drivers of heavy vehicles, including trucks, trailers and buses, do not seem to care about the safety of others, as they indulge in rash driving," alleged Rajinder Singh Jassal, a resident of Kotkapura.
"Most of the road network is very old and in a pathetic condition. Most of the link roads connecting towns and villages are still as narrow as 3 m, while the number of vehicles on the road has increased manifold since the construction of those tracks. Many people use cars even for short distances which they can easily cover by walking, worsening the traffic situation further," claimed Mohar Singh Gill from Sirsari village.
"All village roads should be at least 7-m wide to accommodate the rush," he added.
"Though tractors are supposed to be used only for agricultural activities, thousands of tractors with large extended trolleys driven by untrained drivers can be seen plying on the roads. Many drivers play loud music while driving, which is a distraction," alleged Sham Lal Goyal, president of the Muktsar national consumer awareness group. "They can be used for any commercial purpose, including transporting goods, which is illegal," he added.
"Cyclists and pedestrians face inconvenience as footpaths have not been provided along most roads. Most bridges are also unsafe," said Sukhjinder Singh from Niamiwala village.
"I have constituted a special team to impose fines on traffic violators in the district. In January, the team fined 1,025 violators, while 1,062 had to face action by February 13. In one-and-a-half months, we have collected more than `5.1 lakh as fine. We are being very strict, and sparing none," claimed senior superintendent of police Varinder Pal Singh.
According to data available on the website of the National Crime Records Bureau, more than 3.7 lakh people were killed due to all kinds of accidental deaths in 2011 in India. Of them, nearly 35% were killed in road mishaps. In 2011, Punjab saw 6,496 accidents. Nearly 75% of the people involved in road mishaps were killed.