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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Odisha's tryst with the new Motor Vehicles Act (MVA) has turned out to be a soap opera of the year, with people virtually spending sleepless nights on roads and CM Naveen Patnaik recommending another extension, albeit with a rider of no more extension.

The moot point here is, in implementing the amended motor Vehicles Act, the Odisha government is missing the woods for the tress?

Consider the facts. The rush at RTO offices and people spending nights on roads are ostensibly to update their paperworks, like licences etc.

When the objective of the amended MVA is to curb the fatalities on the road, the startling fact is only a meagre 16 per cent accidents in the State in 2018 involved vehicles without valid licences while a massive 66 per cent of accidents in 2018 involved vehicles having valid licences.

On the other hand hard statistics show where the Odisha government has to act upon.

Sample this. Driving without helmets killed 2,179 lives and another 609 lives were cut short for not fastening their seat belts while driving four-wheelers.

Odisha saw 5,315 fatalities on roads. And 95 per cent of precious lives could have been saved, had the State government focussed on the nuances of road safety like over-speeding, drunken driving, wrong side driving, jumping red light and using mobile while driving.

While overspeeding takes a bigger pie of around 72 per cent of the total road fatalities, drunken driving, using mobile phones during driving, wrong side driving and jumping red lights take the remaining burden of both  fatalities and accidents.

Odisha has attained notoriety in the country in violating such vital road safety norms as the enforcing authorities simply looked the other way.

While in drunken driving fatalities, Odisha occupies the second slot in the country in 2018, the State was 3rd in deaths on roads owing to use of mobile while driving.

Odisha figured at 6th in country in road fatalities for jumping red lights and figured in the top-15 in deaths due to over speeding and wrong side driving.

How the overspeed is proving hell on roads is evidenced from the fact that Odisha recorded a massive 2,183 hit & run accidents in 2018 that cut short lives of 1,089. And the State was ranked at 12th. Hit & run is the cause of most of the road accidents in Odisha, revealed the data on road accidents in 2018.

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