By Shabbir Mir
GILGIT: Driver fatigue and unregulated rent-a-car services in Gilgit-Baltistan prove to some of the more hard-hitting reasons behind a recent surge in road accidents, especially on Karakoram Highway. At least 11 persons have died and many others have been injured in road traffic accidents this week.
According to data collected by The Express Tribune from various rental services, a major contributory factor is driver fatigue. “The lust for money eggs the drivers on to keep working even when they are sleep deprived,” said a manager of a rent-a-car in Gilgit. “They fall asleep behind the wheel, especially during long drives like the KKH,” he toldThe Express Tribune.
Most of the drivers are untrained and lack experience for long distance and highway driving. For instance, the trip from G-B to Rawalpindi takes 22 hours to complete, making it imperative for the driver to be well-rested before embarking on the journey.
These rental companies also run their business without route permits, which is a prerequisite for inter-regional transport services.
Bus service owners are relatively law-abiding and run a safer means of travelling. “You rarely hear of a road accident involving passenger buses. Not one has occurred in the area at least for the last 12 months,” said a senior manager at a private bus company. “Meanwhile, eight car accidents have been reported on the KKH.”
The state-owned Northern Areas Transport Corporation then becomes a safer option for travel. The company has a replacement driver in every bus that commutes between Rawalpindi and G-B.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2015.