A serious road accident happens every minute in India and almost 16 people die every hour. It is one of the major causes for deaths, injuries and property damage every year. Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu together account for almost 33% of total Indian fatalities. People die more in road accidents than in a terrorist attack. In Delhi, on an average, 16 children die and at least 5 deaths are reported because of road accidents every day. Two-wheelers account for 30% of the accidents and the new vehicles with safety features are also involved in the bulk of accidents.
Around 5% of the country’s GDP is invested in road accidents. Even though India has 1% of the world’s vehicle population, it is still accounted for 11% of global road accidents. 70% of the accidents involve young Indians aged 18-45 years, as per the data from Road Accidents in India 2018 report by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. In India, 377 people die equal to a jumbo jet crashing every day.
Let’s take a look at the reasons involved in road accidents:-
Around 97,588 people died in 2018 due to accidents caused by over speeding. It has been a cause for concern irrespective of it being a day or at night, all around the country. Piyush Tiwari from Save a Life Foundation says that around 64% of road deaths happen because of speeding and 60% of accidents in India occur on highways, mostly because of speeding. Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka score the highest for the most number of deaths due to it.
The conditions of roads in India are horrible. India is said to be the fastest-growing nation after China but the roads act as potholes in the progress. Cities and states like New Delhi, Mumbai, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar have the worst roads in the whole of India. In rains, these roads are even worse, as the rainwater fills in these potholes it is difficult for people to spot them which leads to accidents. The constructors using low-quality material also cause damage to roads and people.
Fast and risky stratagems and illegal races on highways or straight roads cause a major problem for the police. More than 65% of accidents happen on straight roads.
Driving on the wrong side of the road is something that is done in India in abundance. People are impatient and want to find a way out of the traffic quick, hence opt for driving on the wrong sides. It led to 5.8% of the total deaths in 2018 and is the second most common violation.
Drunk driving is responsible for 2.8% of accidents in India and mobile phones for 2.4% of the deaths. Drunk driving cases decreased because of the rise in fines, better laws and great media coverage.
The Indian traffic laws are way strict than other countries but they aren’t enforced correctly. Patanjali Nayyar, Regional Officer of WHO said that countries like UK, New Zealand and Australia have better enforcement of laws and the alcohol is limit is 0.08 mg/l, higher than the 0.05 mg/l in India.
India is rated 3 or 4 out of 10 when it comes to enforcing laws, whereas China and Sri Lanka stand at 9 by the Global Road Safety Report 2018 which analysed laws in 175 countries. Piyush Tiwari from Save a Life Foundation said: “When it comes to enforcement we know human behaviour is affected by enforcement and in India, enforcement is largely driven by human beings and is prone to corruption”. He also suggests using artificial intelligence to detect speed as road sensors and adaptive traffic lighting (in which traffic signal timing changes, or adapts, based on actual traffic demand) for enforcing traffic laws, such as in Sri Lanka and Bhutan.
Ministry of data showed that in 2018 around 26% of road accidents happened because of the people who didn’t have a valid drivers license or had a learners license. However, experts say that license doesn’t act as a sign to show that the driver is qualified. Tiwari said that 99% of drivers won’t know about the three-second rule (which ensures driving at a safe speed and maintaining the distance between two vehicles) because they haven’t received any formal training.
It is essential to have the right number of traffic police on signals, speed breakers and the proper dividers on roads. The roads should not be only made for the 4 wheelers but also two-wheelers, pedestrians. Underpasses for pedestrians should be made to avoid accidents.
However, India ranks 1st in the number of road accident deaths across the 199 countries, followed by China and Us according to the World Road Statistics, 2018. Mr Nayyar said that the current speed limit in the country is 80 km per hour on a 4-lane highway. They’ve recommended to reduce it to about 55-57 km per hour because we could save around 30%-37% lives. The police had also got night vision speed guns to identify the people violating the rules. The road network has played a crucial role in India’s economic development and the government is likely to continue to invest resources in making road safety a vital component of everyday commute.
The bottom line is that, it is important to understand that the roads should be repaired every 5 years, better enforcement of laws should be done, heavy fines should be collected, better speed detection facility should be used and last but not the least officials should avoid taking bribes.
Image Credits:- BBC News