Going to Goa on holiday is big fun and the sun kissed beach state remains a top choice for the young, and young at heart. But Goa is also getting more crowded with both people and vehicles, and accidents are the result. With 217.7 accidents per one lakh of people (according to MoRTH figures), Goa tops India’s road accident rate. Here are some reasons why it’s happening, especially to tourists visiting the state.
The tourist mindset
When people land in Goa, it’s usually in a happy, relaxed mindset, almost to the point of being giddy. To many, it feels like they are in a movie! Once they are away from the cities, they would be riding or driving through smooth but narrow roads. Compared to the metros where they would be always on high alert, there would be few moment-to-moment threats on Goa’s curving roads. Naturally, they let their guard down, and low alertness levels coupled with high motor vehicle traffic equals accidents.
A lot of tourists who reach Goa use hired scooters/motorcycles/car with many riding unfamiliar poorly maintained vehicles. It’s easier to crash with such vehicles. A car driver who hires a scooter after years of driving a car in a metro is not going to be a very safe rider on Day 1 of riding a rental scooter. So cars and scooters in bad condition is another factor in causing accidents.
Roads in Goa are generally narrow, twisty and with a lot of blind corners, loose sewer slabs, broken edges and even electric poles sticking on the road after road-widening. Add to this combination a dopey or drunk tourist, you have a recipe for total stupidity, and then BAM. Overtaking too is high-risk business on narrow roads – the vehicle you overtake may suddenly move towards you, because of a pothole, or narrowing road, or a tree branch on his left. That means either you get hit, or you evade and crash on the right side.
No precision driving skills
Such roads call for precision riding/driving and if you can’t drive/ride like that, just take it easy. Many tourists are not used to driving on narrow roads in careful, precise manner. Also, a lot Goans are used to riding slow and easy. A fast tourist may catch them by surprise and both may make mistakes. Slow down, stay alert and keep out of trouble. But just riding slow doesn’t mean you don’t have to focus on the road. Here’s an example.
Gentle local, fast local and confused tourist
Finally, when you reach Goa as a tourist, you must understand that the locals know the road better and some of them will ride faster than you. Often they will be teenagers or youth. Matching their speeds and getting into street races is asking for trouble. Overtaking such aggressively driven cars/two wheelers is fraught with even more dangers. From buses that can push you off the road’s shoulder to suddenly narrowing/widening roads, overtaking and riding/driving aggressively in Goa comes with its own set of surprises.
Goa has a huge stray animal problem, despite the presence of several NGOs. Garbage is dumped everywhere, something Goans are mad at their government about. Garbage dumps mean huge stray dog population despite a lot of activity by animal birth control initiatives. Sometimes, you may even see snakes or porcupines crossing the road in forested stretches.
Add to this, there is the problem of stray cows. During the tourist season and summer, the cows mostly vanish from the roads. But during monsoons, when already visibility is low, they appear on the roads during those short breaks in the rain. At night, the tarmac loses heat slowly and the cows warm themselves sitting there. A tourist could come around a blind corner and run into a solitary cow – or a herd – relaxing in the middle of the road.
Image courtesy HiveMiner