Death on the highways
The spate of road
accidents is rising at an alarming rate claiming innocent lives.
If it is not a bus plunging down a precipice, it is a monstrous
tragedy at some unprotected railway crossing claiming innocent
lives. All these are lives lost in vain in this post war era
where people no longer die on the roads as a result of terrorist
Today, hardly a day passes without a fatal accident being
reported in some part of the country. Where one expects road
accidents to be more frequent in the cities with its heavy press
of traffic, the reality is that in more recent times the
majority of serious accidents had occurred on roads in the
All newspapers yesterday carried front page reports of the
tragedy on the Kurunegala - Dambulla road where a lorry-van
collision claimed the lives of six including that of a young
couple and their infant child.Ten others were critically injured
in the mishap that occurred in the wee hours of the day.
Such accounts are usually read by the public, digested and
then forgotten. The monumental loss of lives during the 30 year
war period of terror has anaesthetized the public to death and
violence. This attitude hopefully would change with the passage
of time and when the peaceful climate gets more entrenched in
the national psyche.
Today, our roads have become veritable death traps. On one
hand we have private bus drivers who have become death dealers
on the highways.On the other, there are the speed fiends
especially among the youth of the new rich who have converted
our roads into racing tracks. Then we have those in control of
the wheel in lorries and vans who are incompetent and are not
medically fit for the task. It is such a state of affairs that
has led to loss of innocent lives in callous fashion.
During the war days such loss of lives in the ordinary course
of events failed to draw public attention nor grab newspaper
headlines. But with such incidents now gradually coming into
sharp focus it behoves on the law enforcement authorities to
turn their attention to this new phenomenon of deaths on our
highways. Now that there are no more deaths on the roads as a
result of terrorist bombs any life lost under other
circumstances cannot be condoned. Our roads have to be made safe
for the general public from a different enemy.
No room should be left for callous loss of lives due to
recklessness or negligence. In our previous editorials we have
spoken of the need for our Police Department to revert to their
civilian role as quickly as possible during this post-war era to
deal with the law and order situation that was largely neglected
during the war years. In this respect they should accord
priority to the mayhem on our roads and restore the status quo.
Now that our law enforcement authorities have time on their
hands to attend to routine police duties they should in all
earnest come down hard on reckless drivers and protect innocent
lives. The mangled wreckage of the ill fated van shows that
either one or both vehicles were travelling at tremendous speed.
The time of the accident being the early morning it should
also be ascertained whether the drivers had fallen asleep at the
wheel or were in fit condition to handle the vehicles. It should
also be probed if they were under the influence of liquor.
Taking opportunity of traffic free roads in the provinces today
it is a common sight to see vehicles tearing away at breakneck
speed with nary a care for the risk. Most accidents reported
have occurred due to this dare devil conduct on the part of
those at the wheel which invariably leads to tragedy.
It is hoped that the latest tragedy on our roads will open
the eyes of authorities to take a serious look at the whole
aspect of road accidents and introduce tough measures to deal
with the miscreants. Those who disregard speed limits should be
severely dealt with even with mandatory prison terms. It is time
that the Police went to work promptly. With the defeat of
terrorism, life in Sri Lanka has once more assumed a value. Loss
of life in a callous fashion as witnessed on the Deduru-oya
bridge should be avoided at all cost. A stringent action plan is
called for to save the innocent public from monsters behind