Merely a fortnight after the State set foot in 2024, the spectre of road deaths and injuries haunts Goa, sending out a call to the various authorities concerned to come on a common platform to arrest the loss of precious lives.
On Monday, January 15, 2024, three persons died in three separate accidents reported at Sirlim in Salcete, Bicholim and Socorro in Bardez. While the Sirlim accident involved a car, the other two were two-wheeler accidents.
The beginning of the New Year was etched in blood when four fatalities were reported across the State and since then, we have been reading about at least one accident and one life lost daily. This is not a very good start for 2024.
If the government’s priority is to build wide highways to streamline traffic, it is equally duty-bound to bring in driving discipline on Goan roads. And to achieve this, it will have to pull up all its resources.
The high number of road accident deaths in a small State like Goa do not send a good signal to the world outside. Saving lives on Goan roads should not be restricted to mere rhetoric, but one that involves a strategy to deal with the cause and find a solution.
There is no doubt that a majority of the accidents are caused due to human error. This in itself explains there is a need for driving schools to come on board to save precious lives. Now, you would ask me how is that possible?
Driving schools in Goa have restricted themselves to merely issuing licenses. Unlike other countries, where one has to pass rigorous tests before obtaining a driving license, in Goa and India getting one is very simple.
In Goa, driving schools need to be brought on board to play a major role in educating drivers and riders about their responsibilities when they are on the road. The government, in league with experts, can come up with a curriculum on safe driving habits.
The issuance of a driving license cannot and should not be an easy process. The new driver or rider has to be made to study the curriculum and pass a test only on obtaining a certain minimum number of marks. Once he or she passes this test, then the actual trial on the road for issuing the license can take place.
Driving schools have to be empowered to reject a driving license to a person if the theory and practical test scores are not up to the mark. In that case, he or she will have to go through the process of acquiring the license from the start all over again.
In Goa, over-speeding and drunk driving cases are on the rise and the traffic police haven’t been successful in dealing with both. Simultaneously, one must realise that challans and fines are not the solution to curb road deaths.
Looking at the rising number of road accidents and subsequent deaths, it is more than pertinent to focus on our individual responsibility of providing a safe passage to others on the roads.
We also have to realise that when in the driver’s seat, there is a responsibility that is bestowed on us and that responsibility is to care for others on the road. You can’t control the way others drive, but you can drive defensively and stay safe.
The driving schools could also publish a manual on safe driving skills and give it to those passing their driver’s test. Such a manual will help drivers to react in a certain manner as per our road conditions and situations.
Goa’s accident death rate at the start of the year is not very encouraging. If we are to reduce the number of deaths, we have miles to go.