Every accident is different from another because the venue, the vehicle, the time of occurrence and the people involved are all different. But most of them occur due to the same set of reasons and they all have tragic consequences: indifference to or ignorance of rules and regulations, lack of skills and inadequate training of drivers, wrong or bad design of roads, overcrowding, poor condition of vehicles, etc. Most accidents are caused by one or more of these reasons. The bus accident in Jagtial district in Telangana on Tuesday in which 57 people were killed was also caused by some of those reasons. It is perhaps the worst bus accident in the country’s history, with the highest ever toll, which may rise even further. The bus was overcrowded, and the driver took a deviation to an unsafe route to save some time and distance and then failed to notice a speed-breaker. The reasons are depressingly common and familiar.
Though the reasons are known, and it is claimed by governments and other authorities that safety steps and precautionary measures are taken, accidents and the numbers of lives lost keep rising. Over 1.5 lakh people died in accidents all over the country in 2016, and over the recent past, there has been an increase of over 3% every year in the number of causalities. The government, courts and different agencies have all been involved in preventive and remedial measures, and they are all impressive on paper. The government has brought forward a new law on motor vehicles, a national road safety action plan has been formulated for implementation in the next three years and the Supreme Court has made suggestions and issued guidelines for action. Transport and police departments, which have important roles in matters related to roads, traffic and accidents, have claimed that they have improved their standards and functioning. But again, accidents have only kept rising.
It is true that the number of vehicles on our roads are increasing. But that should not lead to more accidents but to effective policies and steps to reduce accidents. There is need for improvement in every aspect. Roads should be better built and maintained. Vehicles can do with better safety features. Rules and regulations should be well-enforced. Problems of public transport, especially those like overcrowding, should receive special attention. There should be greater use of road signals, CCTV cameras, etc., and technology should be put to better use. There should be better co-ordination among all departments and agencies involved and most importantly, steps should be taken to improve the road sense and safety awareness of the general public.