The number of deaths due to road accidents in India is indeed a cause for worry. The scenario is very dismal with more than 1,37,000 people succumbing to injuries from road accidents. This figure is more than four times the annual death toll from terrorism. Reports show that a person dies in a road accident every four minutes. At least 5 deaths are reported due to road accidents everyday in Delhi and 16 children die every day in India because of the same reason. The reports also show that while two-wheelers account for 30% of the accidents, the new vehicles with the state-of-art safety features are involved in a bulk of accidents.
- Bad Roads: India is said to be the fastest developing country after China. The nation is performing extremely well in fields such as education, industrialization and fashion. However the conditions of the roads, be it the metropolitans, towns or villages, act as a major pothole in India’s complete progress. According to the Road Accident Report for 2014 prepared by the road transport and highways ministry, 75,000 people have been killed because of the killer roads of India.
- Speeding: Another major factor contributing to the increased number of road accidents is speeding. The public fails to follow the speed limits, especially on the highway. This has resulted in 41% of the total deaths due to road accidents in India in 2014.
- Overloaded vehicles: Be it passengers or goods, overloaded vehicles are also a major cause for accidents in India. It becomes difficult to control an overloaded vehicle. When a vehicle is carrying goods such as protruding steel rods, the result of an accident is even worse. Overloaded vehicles have accounted for 36,543 deaths in 2014.
- Drunken driving: Even though driving under the influence of alcohol is strictly prohibited, many flaunt this rule, which at times results in road accidents. Even if the person under the influence of alcohol walks away safe from the scene of the accident due to the safety features of the car, the pedestrians and smaller vehicles involved in the accidents are not so lucky.
- Helmets: Two-wheelers account for 30% of the road accidents in India. Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of severe injury by 72% and the risk of death by 39%, according to the World Health Organisation. But only a handful of the cities in India have made the use of helmets mandatory.
- Safer road for vehicles, not people: While India has been upgrading its highways since 2000, with dividers, four-lane and six-lane roads and expressways, the design does not cater to the requirements of pedestrians, cyclists, two-wheelers, animal carts and other slow-moving traffic.
Concentration of Accidents
According to a report prepared by the Transport Research Wing (TRW), the total number of road accidents has increased marginally from 4.86 lakh in 2013 to 4.89 lakh in 2014. The number of fatalities has also gone up by about 1.5%. Thirteen states – Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal, Bihar, Punjab and Haryana – account for about 83.2% of the deaths.
While Tamil Nadu accounts for the maximum number of road crash injuries among all the states, Delhi had road accidents with 1,671 deaths and Chennai registering the second highest number at 1,118. Last year, 318 people died in 475 crashes in Ludhiana while 106 such cases claimed 63 lives in Dhanbad. The holy city of Amritsar registered 94 fatalities in 165 crashes.
The Government Steps in
On January 11, Union home minister Rajnath Singh launched the annual road safety week. The following actions are being taken to help reduce road accidents in India:
- Nitin Gadkari has announced Rs 11,000 crore over the next five years to fix the engineering defects on roads across India.
- 726 “black spots” in the country where accidents are most common will be fixed.
- Work on 10 black spots in Delhi to be taken up as the first priority task.
- NGOs and citizens are being urged to conduct road safety awareness drives.
- A sum of Rs. 3 lakh will be used to support the NGOs.
- The government will also conduct safety audits. This will constitute an assessment by specialised teams of 3000 km of highways this year to identify safety problems and suggest solutions.
It is time for the government to take steps towards constructing better designed roads, regulating the safety features of vehicles as well as enforcement of the traffic rules and regulations to help bring down the percentage of road accidents.