Jammu and Kashmir has a few of India’s most dangerous roads. Most always, a crash on such roads proves fatal. 7 people travelling in a Mahindra Scorpio, on Gulabgard-Ishtyari road in Padder area of Kishtwar district, died when the SUV plunged 800 meters into a gorge.
At the bottom of the gorge, the SUV was a mangled mess, leaving all seven aboard dead. All seven, including the driver. were locals. Salvage operations recovered the dead bodies. Locals complain that the road has been in shambles for a while, and that this has caused many fatalities.
According to the locals, the construction agency is to blame for the road’s poor condition. While it’s too early to speculate on the cause of the accident, such roads are the norm in many parts of the mountainous north and north eastern parts of the country.
Apart from poor quality of roads, which often overlook precipitous drops, landslides are the other big danger. Riding/driving on such roads requires extreme caution, and driver errors, causing fatalities is quite common. Here are some tips for driving on mountainous roads.
- Make sure that your vehicle is in good condition before venturing onto mountain roads. Brakes and tyres require special attention. Checking brake lines and fluid levels is vital. As for tyres, check for the right pressure, any cuts and bulges before hitting the mountains.
- Inexperience can prove to be fatal on challenging mountain roads. It’s advisable that a steady, experienced driver takes the wheel on such roads.
- Overloading is an absolute no-no. When the vehicle is traversing challenging terrain, it’s already under stress. Tyres can burst, brakes can fail, and driving dynamics can go for a toss. Overloading it further tilts the odds, and creates circumstances ripe for an accident. Don’t risk it.
- If there’s an alternate, better road available, take it. Even if it’s longer. Cutting corners is not a good idea.
- Limit daily distances. Driving in the hills is time consuming. For instance, covering 100 kilometers in 3 hours is the norm rather than the exception when it comes to hill driving. Driving in such conditions is also stressful. Limiting daily distances adds safety to the equation. And fatigue kills.
- Overtaking requires extreme caution in the hills, compounded by blind curves and inclines. Slow down, and plan each overtaking maneuver carefully.
- It can get dark rather quickly in the hills. Darkness means fog, near invisibility, and plummeting temperatures, potent conditions for a ‘perfect storm’. Starting as early as possible in the morning, and stopping before sundown is the safest strategy.