Road Accidents: India’s Biggest Killer
This is a guest blog written by Aneesh on a very important topic:”Road Accidents: India’s Biggest Killer”. We generally tend to ignore this serious subject.
Road accidents are the leading cause of deaths in India, especially among youth between 15 and 29 years. The number of deaths caused by road accidents surpasses the total of all deaths due to all ailments, crime, border action and terrorism.
Sadly, most of those who die on the roads perish because of preventable causes: primarily over speeding, drunk driving and overloading.
Alarming Road Accident Statistics
- 146,133 people were killed in road accidents in India in 2015, up from 139,671 in 2014.
- There were 501,423 road accidents in 2015 – or 1,374 accidents every day – up from 489,400 in 2014.
- 500,279 people were injured in road accidents in 2015, up from 493,474 in 2014.
- 400 road deaths take place every day on India’s roads.
- 13 states, including Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh, accounted for more than 80% of all the road accidents and fatalities.
- Nearly 80% of road accidents were due to the fault of the drivers, with 62% being due to over speeding.
Causes of Road Accidents
Over speeding is the biggest cause of road accidents. Over speeding has consistently accounted for over 50,000 deaths on roads each year, for the past several years.
Overloading of vehicles, particularly trucks, makes them hard to control, especially when they need to brake. Similarly, driving with protruding loads – for instance steel rods protruding out of trucks – is also a common sight on Indian roads, albeit illegal. These two causes accounted for deaths in excess of 40,000 in 2015.
Drunk driving is increasingly becoming the next biggest cause of deaths due to accidents after speeding. Madhya Pradesh and Bihar account for almost a quarter of all deaths due to drunk driving. Among smaller states, Haryana and Uttarakhand have tolls way higher than many larger states.
Two-wheelers account for the largest share of vehicles on Indian roads. So, it is not a surprise that they also account for the largest number of fatalities. In 2015, 38% of all road deaths were of two-wheelers, while bicyclists accounted for 5% and pedestrians for 10%. The 16,000-plus deaths among pedestrians and cyclists indicate that Indian roads are not very friendly to either of the two most vulnerable road users.
Solutions to Reduce/Prevent Road Accidents
- Strict enforcement of speed limits, especially on highways, could save thousands of lives.
- Since the heavy truck traffic is large on national and state highways, better monitoring and law enforcement can save lives.
- Sustained campaigns against drunk driving should be conducted by traffic authorities by following the examples of metros like Delhi and Mumbai.
- Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of severe injury by 72% and the risk of death by 39%.
- Proper pavements and pedestrian crossings, also separate lanes for cyclists should be made available so that pedestrians and cyclists can move around safely without being bullied by larger vehicles.
- Investing more in public transport could play a big role in improving India’s urban road safety. For example, Mumbai has fewer road deaths compared to other cities like Chennai. This is because Mumbai has fewer vehicles on the roads and has a reasonably efficient, albeit greatly overloaded, public transport system.
- Road dividers are a great help in reducing road accidents and must be constructed on all major roads.
- Roads should have better lighting.
- Potholes, dug up parts of roads, collection of debris, sudden appearance of road dividers and speed breakers without adequate signage also increase road accidents and hence must be taken care of by the administration.
Strict implementation of simple traffic rules and transport norms can go a long way towards reducing the loss of human caused by road accidents. The Ministry of Road transport is trying to improve poorly designed roads, identify vulnerable spots, and deploy electronic surveillance to deter traffic offences. It is also in talks with state governments over a new road safety bill, which will be tabled in the next session of the parliament. The proposed law will crack down on traffic offenders and suggests steep penalties for offenders, including minimum seven-year jail terms in accidents that result in deaths. Above all, the people themselves should abide by the traffic laws instead of trying to save a few seconds and endangering someone’s life.