Driving tests crucial for road safety

The road safety in Jammu & Kashmir is not getting the attention it deserves keeping in view drastically increasing frequency in the number of road accidents in the state and more so in the mountainous areas of Chenab Valley, Pir Panchal region and Kashmir valley. Unfortunately response to road accidents remains restricted to few words of condolences to the families of the road accident victims from the politicians of all shades and the top helmsmen and announcements of ex-gratia of few lakhs by the government to the families of the road accident victims. The measures required to stop the increasing frequency in road accidents in both mountainous and as well as plain areas are not given a thought even for the sake of a simple discussion as otherwise round the clock patrolling on accident prone routes in the hilly areas should have been enforced and supervised by the traffic police department long back. Levying heavy fines on offenders and holding traffic awareness programs without overseeing the strict implementation of the Motor Vehicles Act (MVA) can’t reduce the intensity of road accidents in the state. Unfortunately the J&K transport department is giving very trivial importance to driving tests for issuance of learner’s licenses at the initial stages and regular licenses at a later stage. No proper procedures are in place to oversee proper institutional investigation into the allegations of rampant corruption against license issuing authorities of the regional transport offices in the state.
To get a learner’s license a learner is not even required to prove his/her ability to drive on the main roads as allegations are galore that touts appear for the driving tests “on behalf of” drivers and it is for this reason that unsurprisingly, 80% of road accidents in Jammu and Kashmir are caused by valid license holders. In fact the procedures have to be put in place to stop road accidents even before they occur and introduction of fully automated driving tests at all the district headquarters could bring transparency in the license issuing process as has been done by the Delhi government in March this year. The accuracy of automated tests would surely ensure that bad drivers go back to the learning board and such a process could bring down the intensity in road accident in coming years. Safety of travelers on roads can be ensured only if the drivers are made to successfully pass a driving test without any third party intervention honestly and successfully and as such the government has to ensure that passing a driving test honestly and successfully without third party intervention becomes a basic precondition, but not an option.

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