04 Mar 2024  |   03:43am IST

Road accidents result of collective failure

A motorcyclist named Javed Sadekar died after he flipped over Old Mandovi Bridge and plummeted into the river when his two-wheeler was hit by a rent-a-car on February 23. The accident occurred when the speeding rent-a-car was trying to overtake another vehicle on the Old Mandovi Bridge. The impact of the accident was such that the biker was flung into the air and later fell into the river. The victim left behind a broken home, which has his wife and three minor sons.

Soon after this tragic incident, there was a clamour for banning the rent-a-car system. But on the same day, two other persons were killed in road accidents in the State. An elderly pedestrian, Gopal Gaonkar, from St Cruz, was knocked down by a KTC bus when he was crossing the road near the Holy Cross shrine at Bambolim.

The other life lost was that of Shaukat Ali (60), a painter from New Vaddem in Vasco, after his bike came under the wheels of a truck travelling in the same direction near the Dabolim railway overbridge.

These accidents show that targeting only the rent-a-car system is a very myopic approach to deal with the menace of road accidents. It is an outcome of a collective failure on part of an aimless administration and a callous society.

According to NGO Goa Road Safety Forum, 50 fatal accidents have already occurred in the first two months of 2024 and an equal number of injuries have taken place. The saga of blood bath on Goa roads has been continuing since long and doesn’t seem to end.

After every tragedy, the government assures strict measures against road accidents. Despite assurances, it is now evident that neither the central government nor the State government has got any road map to curb this menace of road accidents. Meanwhile, Goa continues to witness the scourge of high-speeding vehicles and non-compliance with traffic rules. These incidents raise questions about the government’s commitment towards addressing safety concerns at accident-prone junctions.

There are hardly any traffic police constables at busy road junctions. One can see hordes of traffic cops only when there is a VIP movement. There has to be a crackdown on reckless driving, which is only adding to the menace.

There are too many gaps in the system, which the NGOs and media have been highlighting, but the government seems to be in a state of permanent slumber.

First concern is the issuing of driving licences. There has been a long-pending demand to regulate the way people are presently getting the licences. The driving schools have allegedly become agents. But nothing seems to be happening. Moreover, the driving tests conducted by the RTO are archaic as they provide no evaluation of the driver’s real life driving skills and behaviour.

The vehicular population in the State has increased, but barring the national highways, the condition of rest of the roads in Goa is poor. Almost every arterial road in Panjim has been dug, leaving the State’s capital in a mess. Moreover, the illumination around these sites is missing.

It was only after the death of a young Ayush Halarnkar that reflectors and warning lights came up at the sites where roads have been dug up in Panjim.

But, blaming the administration alone is not enough. The vehicle users are also equally responsible for the accidents by not adhering to safety norms. Overspeeding, drunken driving, lane-cutting, not using indicators, jumping red signal, not wearing helmets, not fastening seat belts, driving without a valid licence, parents handing over vehicle keys to minors – are some of the key concerns.

The government has to push for strengthening the public transport system inorder to take the automobiles off the road and reduce the vehicle load. It is unfortunate that the Goa government falls prey to the taxi mafia and does not let app-based taxis enter Goa, and has been reluctant in mandatorily deploying speed governors for rent-a-cars. It is only now that after a spate of accidents that the government has made it compulsory.

Also, there has to be curbs on easy availability of liquor. It is appalling that maximum tourists consider Goa as a liquor and party destination. Unless there is a complete image makeover of the State and strict control over liquor availability, the accidents won’t stop. Best way to prevent accidents and loss of innocent lives is to create road safety awareness amongst parents and teachers. Also awareness programmes should be held at the panchayat-level.

Just like there is no one factor responsible for the fatal road accidents, there is no quick fix solution available to stop the menace. This requires detailed planning, meticulous execution and a strong-willed administration.

Crack down on traffic rule violators – be it a local or a tourist – because it’s not just a tourist causing mishaps, even the locals are responsible for it. It is time to fasten the belt and get going behind the rogue elements on the roads. Every drop of blood counts. We have lost more lives on the roads than on the borders fighting the enemy. It’s a shame!


Iddhar Udhar