Foggy vision of policy planners has failed to rein in reckless drivers on Punjab roads.
The focus of authorities has been more on post-crash measures instead of pre-crash steps and this bottom-to-top approach is a major stumbling block in curbing the number of road accidents in the state.
Bogus driving licences
Fake driving licences have contributed in a major way to the problem of rash and negligent driving that often leads to fatal crashes.
Driving licence authorities in Punjab remain alarmingly generous. There are hardly any checks. According to sources, a significant number of departmental inquiries are going on against officials who have been allegedly involved in issuing driving licences in large numbers and without following proper procedures.
The result: Lawlessness prevails on the arteries of the state where traffic rules are thrown to the wind.
According to road safety experts, a stringent procedure of issuing driving licence needs to be put in place, besides a harsh law to punish reckless drivers.
Learning right lessons
Experts say a learner licence is issued to an individual without any stringent test. “Such individuals don’t know much about traffic rules and often get involved in road accidents, putting lives of people at risk,” says an expert.
In 2014, 917 accidents were committed by those having a learner’s licence, killing 222 people.
In the same year, people without licence were involved in 701 accidents that killed 219 people.
“We must without fail adopt the graduated driver licensing (GDL) system which is being followed by developed countries. The GDL system aims at increasing the duration of learner’s licence to reduce road crash risks. Under this system, regular licence is only issued once the person absolutely attains driving skills. To curb unsafe driving, there should be fear of punishment,” says Navdeep Asija, a traffic expert.
According to him, tough and transparent process for issuing driving licences is the first step in making Punjab roads safe.
Enforce rules strictly
Endorsing his views, Jalandhar’s additional deputy commissioner of police (traffic) Parminder Singh Bhandal, said a special sensitisation drive is needed to make people obey traffic rules.
“The need of the hour is to take unpopular steps to decongest road,” the police officer added.
Drunk and speeding drivers cause about 35% of total road accident deaths in Punjab. There is a dire need of equipping police with enforcement devices such as alcometers and speed guns.
Also, more traffic police personnel are required to keep tabs on reckless and underage drivers.
The government also needs to strengthen public transport system to discourage the use of personal vehicles. It will not only decongest roads but also reduce the risk of accidents considerably,” says an expert.
How to make roads safe
*Make laws more stringent and their effective enforcement
*Identification and treatment of black spots (accident-prone areas) treatment a must
*Clampdown on drunk drivers and speed devils
*Boost infrastructure and manpower
*Create better roads, develop footpaths and cycle paths
*Educate people on importance of helmet and seat belt
*Special thrust on making vulnerable user safe
*Control on liquor supply