The condition of roads in India is far from ideal. Leave alone the rural hinterlands and the semi-urban locations that are mushrooming across India with ludicrous regularity, even the roads of big cities are far from what can be called safe. In fact, in some of the newly-developed and developed areas of these metro cities one can see craters that are of the size of ones found on the Moon. This is the reason why so often there are so many mishaps on these roads. One also needs to take into cognizance the tendencies of rash driving by people behind the wheel as well as the generally-irreverent and irresponsible attitude of pedestrians while crossing the roads. Most often, they do not acknowledge traffic rules and deem it fit to cross the roads as and when they wish to, thus putting themselves and others at risk.
Is India really the worst in terms of accidents?
In 2014 the-then union minister Gopinath Munde passed away in a road accident and this brought forth some rather uncomfortable questions regarding the situation of Indian roads. If the ministers, who enjoy the highest level of benefits, are not safe then one can jolly well understand the situation of the common people. However, it would be entirely wrong to assume that India is the worst off when it comes to road accidents.
The numbers are frightening indeed. In 2012, road accidents of various denominations claimed 138,258 lives in India and the population of Maldives is just a little more than that. In the last few years, China has been able to increase its levels of road safety, while India has overtaken its northeastern neighbour in terms of road accidents. As per the National Crime Records Bureau, in 2012, on a daily basis 461 people lost their lives and 1301 were injured in road accidents. If we calculate, each hour 19 people died in an accident, and each three minutes, one person died in an accident in India.
There is a lot that India can do in order to ensure that its roads are safer. India is second in the world in terms of population and it is given that it would have its fair share of road accidents. Even as India becomes more urban, more roads will be built and the number of cars and other vehicles on the streets will increase as well. This will also mean that there the number of accidents and related deaths shall increase as well, even as unfortunate as that may sound.
A good way in which one can judge road safety in a country is by looking at the amounts of death per 1000 people. The World Health Organisation states that the global average in this regard is 18 and India’s average is only marginally higher at 18.9. Countries such as the following have a higher rate than that of India:
• Thailand (38)
• Iran (34)
• South Africa (32)
• Iraq (31)
• Venezuela (37.2)
• Saudi Arabia (28)
• Oman (34)
• Malaysia (25)
• Nigeria (33)
• China (20.5)
Accidents in 2014
2014 has seen a couple of major road accidents.
• The first such incident happened on 4 February when a bus travelling between Pune and Satara, Maharashtra, fell in a ditch. The accident claimed at least 10 lives and 33 people were injured.
• In the other couple of accidents, which happened on 29 July, a minimum of 33 people passed away.
Accidents in 2012 and 2013
There were four major road accidents in this year.
• The first one occurred on 10 January in Bihar. A truck carrying several people lost its balance and a minimum of 25 people died. This included 11 children as well.
• The second one happened in Punjab on 4 March. A school bus hit a truck and 12 people – a driver and 11 children – lost their lives. 10 children were injured in the same.
• The third incident happened on 3 October in Assam. A cargo truck rammed straight into a couple of minivans, which were full of labourers. The incident, which happened 160 km towards the west of Guwahati, claimed 28 lives including that of 13 kids. 20 people were injured in the accident.
• The last major accident of this year happened exactly a week later in Himachal Pradesh. A truck accident killed 20 people and wounded 30.
• There was a solitary major road accident in 2012. It happened on 11 August when 51 people died after a bus dove into a gorge.
Accidents in 2009 and 2010
There were only two major accidents in 2010.
• On 17 February at least 22 people were killed in Jalaun, when a bus filled with wedding guests ran straight into a river. Incidentally 10 others could never be found after the accident.
• On 11 August, a bus fell into a gorge and more than 51 people were killed.
• The only major road accident of 2009 took place in Kashmir when the collision of a couple of buses resulted in the death of at least 25 individuals and injuries to 40 people.
Accidents in 2008
In recent memory this was a very bad year in terms of road accidents in India as there were many such occurrences across the year.
• The first one happened on 20 January at Nashik, Maharashtra. A bus filled with Hindu pilgrims fell into a gorge and 39 people were killed, while 40 others were injured.
• On 5 February at Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, a truck hit a wall and overturned after losing control. It was full of Hindu pilgrims. 12 people died and 20 were injured.
• On 24 February at Sonapur, Assam a bus ran straight into a roadside pond after veering off track. One was injured and at least 18 people lost their lives.
• On 5 March Hathras saw yet another accident when a truck filled with Hindu pilgrims lost control and fell over. This happened when it was trying to take a sharp turn. 11 people lost their lives and 20 were injured.
• On 4 April a chartered bus travelling – with more people than it could fit in – between Narayanpur and Babughat skidded off the road and went straight into the Kestopur canal, North 24 Parganas, West Bengal. 20 people were killed and 35 were injured.
• On 16 April a bus with 60 school kids attempted to overtake a truck at high speed at Bodeli. It lost control and fell into the Narmada River. This was at the outer parts of Vadodara in Gujarat. 47 individuals lost their lives in the incident.
• On 20 April at Battery Cheshma in Jammu and Kashmir 13 people lost their lives when a passenger bus skidded off the road and fell into a 370 feet deep gorge. 28 people were injured in the incident.
• On 23 April in the outskirts of Khara in Rajasthan a minivan, which was overcrowded, struck a truck. It had a couple of newlyweds and the family members. 24 people were killed in the accident.
• On 4 May a jeep with more than its fair share of people hit a truck. The accident happened on the outskirts of Mumbai and 16 people were killed in the same. Incidentally, this truck too was carrying a wedding couple and its family members. On 8 May at Kishtwar, Jammu and Kashmir, a bus tried to negotiate a sharp turn and fell into the Chenab River, which was at a height of 370 feet below the spot where the accident took place. 44 people were killed in the accident.
• On 21 May a bus travelling on the regular route between Bageshwar and Pithrogarh went off the road and fell 300 feet into a ditch. The accident took place on the outskirts of Chordhuroli in Uttarakhand. The main reason for the accident was said to be a mechanical issue. 21 people passed away and nine were injured in the same.
• On 9 June, 17 people were killed as a result of the collision between a jeep and a passenger bus at Shahuwadi Kolhapur in Maharashtra. 25 people were injured in the accident.
• On 15 June a Himachal Road Transport Bus plying between Rampur and Bachri fell 500 feet into a gorge. The accident happened at Kalchi More in Rampur. 16 people died in the accident and six were injured.
• Lightning struck in the same state on 21 June. A Himachal Road Transport Bus plying from Rampur to Basheri fell into a gorge. It was a narrow curve and the driver was blamed for the accident. It happened in the outer parts of Rampur and 16 people were killed.
• On 28 June in Nainital a bus travelling on the regular route between Sakhnikhet and Kotdwar fell into a gorge. This happened on the outskirts of Bedgaon. Nine were injured and four more lost their lives.
• On 3 July in the same city an accident happened again. This time it was a regular route bus travelling from Kashipur to Haldwani. It had 48 passengers and went straight into a tree after a front tyre burst. It happened at Gadappu and claimed 19 lives while injuring 29.
• On 9 July a regular route bus travelling between Ramgarh and Ranchi hit a truck. It had way too many people and fell into the Chutupala Valley. The accident killed 20 and injured 30 – it took place at Netarhat in Jharkhand.
• On 20 July at least 16 people were killed when there was a head-on collision between a truck and private mini bus. This happened at the Etah-Kasganj Expressway, which is located on the outer part of Etah in Uttar Pradesh.
• On 23 July a regular route bus travelling between Jammu and Srinagar lost control and was crushed. 17 people lost their lives and 35 were injured. The accident happened at Banihal Pass in Sher-Bibi.
• On 31 July a bus fell into the Alkananda River at Panauti in Kaverepalanchowk, Uttarakhand. The bus had pilgrims from Nepal. At least 36 people were killed and 11 were injured.
• On 2 August a truck with 125 farm workers – much more than its capacity – fell into a small river. The incident happened at Khagaria in Bihar. A minimum of 60 people were killed.
• On Independence Day, 15 children lost their lives in Karnataka. It happened when a bus – it had 40 people and 32 of them were students of Baami School – lost control and fell into the Phalguni River. It happened in a village named Ulaibitta in Mangalore.
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