How A Road Safety Campaign is Raising Much-Needed Awareness In Kashmir

Posted by AaKiz Bhat in Kashmir, Society
January 1, 2017

Road accidents have became a major problem in the world. Everyday, we hear about road mishaps here and there and it makes us worried about our own safety. Over the years, road accident deaths have drastically increased. According to WHO, every year 1.25 million people die due to road accidents in the world, between 20 and 50 million people suffer non fatal injuries, some even becoming disabled as a result of their injury. According to the same (WHO), 73% of all traffic accidents occur among males.

Road safety in India has always been a concern. India accounts for about 10% of the road fatalities worldwide. About 1,46,000 road accident deaths took place in 2015 which means in every 4 minutes one road accident death took place in India in 2015. These statistics reveal how serious this issue is. Many things are responsible for these statistics.

First, it is the citizen himself/herself, their negligence towards road safety measures adds up to this bad condition. Every citizen is the protector of law, but it’s that very citizen who breaks it. Nobody takes traffic rules seriously in India. Let us understand and acknowledge that these traffic rules have been made for our own safety. There are road safety instructions which we never follow like wearing a helmet while driving a motorcycle, fastening the seat belt while driving a car, driving within the prescribed speed limits. Another problem is of underage children driving illegally. No one is allowed, under the law in India, to drive before the age of 18 years, but as I said we never follow law seriously.

About J&K

Now coming to Jammu and Kashmir, where from I from, conditions here are no different from the rest of India. In 2013, Jammu and Kashmir recorded highest percentage of deaths due to road accidents in India. Nine hundred and ninety two persons died while 8, 594 were injured in road accidents in 2013. In the Kashmir valley, there were 309 road accident deaths in 2013, 257 road accident deaths in 2014. In 2015, 919 persons lost their lives and 8,400 sustained injuries due to road accidents in J&K. Of these road accident deaths, most are men. Such a large number of accidents is clearly a matter of concern.

Recently, a teenager, named Basit, died when his bike was hit by a speeding truck in Srinagar. He died on spot while his friend suffered serious injuries. His death inspired a road safety campaign called ‘Basit Memorial Road Safety’ campaign with a tagline ‘Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow’. This campaign was started to make people aware about road safety principles while walking or driving on roads. This voluntary campaign is led by a group of young people and gained popularity with people taking selfies wearing seatbelts and helmets and uploading them on social networking sites. This campaign has got a lot of following mostly among young people. People in Kashmir always take road safety measures lightly, so this campaign could have an impact.

The campaign has now spread to schools and colleges to raise awareness among young minds about road safety measures. A campaign like this can only be effective if citizens are ready to contribute. One shouldn’t always blame the government, when we as citizens can also contribute to our wellbeing. Following road safety measures while walking or driving on roads is for our own safety. While we know that an ordinary helmet cannot fully protect the skull during a major accident, but it can reduce the chances of serious head injury to some extent. Wearing a seat belt while driving is another safety measure which can save us from serious injury during a car accident. It’s not mandatory for just the driver to be wearing the seat belt, but for all who are present in the car. According to studies, a person who is not wearing a seatbelt is 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a crash. This is how important it is to wear a seat belt. Road safety measures are meant for everyone, whether someone is driving or walking on the road.

Much-needed awareness

Campaigns like this should be everywhere in the world, particularly in this country, as road accident deaths are high in this country. People in this country usually don’t take road safety measures seriously so educating people about them is a must. Neither does the issue doesn’t get a solid amount of coverage in the media. So, people tend to ignore it.

If you are reading this, try to educate people about road safety measures. Tell them about the consequences of not following road safety measures. This may be a small step, but it can have a large impact. Above all, it can save lives.