~~ By Lamphrang Nongspung
A saying — ‘The roads are filled with idiots’ seems to fit in quite well in the context of Meghalaya. If one takes a look at the increasing number of accident cases caused by irresponsible driving in the state, one would arrive at the point that “Our roads are no longer safe”.
It is true that road accidents are unfortunate incidences which can happen to anyone irrespective of whether you drive at a low speed or average speed. But what caused the accident is a bigger question.
The recent accident cases in the state is an answer to the above mentioned query — Rash and drunken driving, an adrenaline rush to beat others to the race and own the streets, a feeling which one fails to realize could turn fatal not only for the driver but for others.
It may be reminded that in February 2017, 17 people were killed and 62 others were injured when a goods’ carrier truck rammed into a concrete barricade at West Khasi Hills. Investigations into the case pointed out that the driver of the ill-fated truck was driving at a very high speed, causing him to lose control of the wheels while taking a steep turn.
In another recent case, a woman was killed and three others were injured after a driver suspected to be drunk rammed into a roadside shop near Rhino Museum in Umshyrpi Shillong on September 12.
As per official figures, in 2016, Meghalaya registered a total number of 282 accidents in which 204 were killed and 372 persons injured.
While 118 persons dies and 262 were injured in accidents cause by dangerous overtaking and careless driving, 29 persons dies and 42 were injured in accidents caused by over speeding.
During 2010-2014, 463 persons lost their life because of drunken driving and 1772 persons were injured in a similar incident. From January till June 2017, 11 persons died and 12 sustained injuries.
ACCIDENTS ACROSS THE STATE
He further said that the police have compounded my people who were caught to be driving under the influence of alcohol or driving recklessly and carelessly.Superintendent of Police (Traffic) Nangkiewirat Syiem told TNT=The Northeast Today that the police are conducting checking every now and then not only in the city roads but even in places like Mawkdok on the Shillong-Sohra stretch where large number of accident cases had been reported.The Traffic branch of the Meghalaya police has taken various steps to address the problem of rash and drunken driving in the city and in the outskirts. One of major steps taken by the department in this connection is the frequent checking being conducted at various important points to keep a tap on reckless and drunken driving.
The SP Traffic said that the police are using the breath analyzer to check drunken driving adding that every police traffic branch are equipped with the technology to check irresponsible driving.
He also said that they have also been holding awareness programme to educate the people on the issue of rash & drunken driving adding that people are now very alert and would always informed the police if they come across any cases of rash and drunken driving.
“But we need the cooperation of all stakeholders to make to make road safe in the State,” Syiem said. The SP (Traffic) also said that the police really need the support of the general public to prevent road accidents and prevent lost of life.
He also called upon the people to regulate themselves while driving and to avoid rash and alcohol while driving. He also suggested that people who drive should give 100 percent of their attention on the road and avoid using mobile phones while driving. “I would urge the people not to drive their vehicle if they are physically weak and too stressed,” he added.
When asked about over speeding of vehicles, Syiem said that it is difficult to check over speeding of vehicle due to lack of proper equipment.
On the issue of traffic congestion, he said that the Traffic police have suggested on the need to construct fly-overs at Barik Point, Thangkhiew Petrol Pump Junction at Mawlai and MES point to avoid inter-crossing of vehicles.
“We have found that the major cause of traffic jam in these areas is due to inter-crossing of vehicles. We have made this proposal to the inspection team of the various Government departments,” Syiem said.
According to him, the only way to widen the road in the city is to smash the footpaths adding that this will also help to address the problem of congestion in the city.
(The journalist can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)