A Brief Look at India’s Road Accidents

India's road accident is more dangerous than the COVID-19 pandemic, said Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari in February 2021!

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In fact, India loses many more lives to road accidents than it has lost to the Corona virus. Globally, Road Traffic Mishaps are the eighth leading cause of death.

The World Bank reports that India has 1% of the world’s vehicles, but 11% of the world’s road deaths due to accidents, which is the highest anywhere in the world! Road accidents are undoubtedly a greater threat to Indians than deadly viruses.

India witnesses more than 4.5 lakh traffic accidents every year, in which 1.5 lakh people die. Approximately 53 road accidents occur in India every hour, killing one person every four minutes according to the World Bank. In the last decade, 50 lakh Indians were injured in road accidents while 13 lakh lost their lives.

In a study reserch, Commissioned by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), the socio-economic cost of road crashes is estimated at Rs. 1,47,114 crore, which is equivalent to 0.77% of India’s GDP. According to the ministry, 76.2% of the people who lose their lives in road crashes are in their prime working age, which is between 18-45 years old.

During 2019, 1,51,113 people were killed in 4,80,652 road accidents, an average of 414 deaths per day or 17 deaths per hour. In 2019, India continued to have the most road fatalities worldwide, followed by China with 63,093 deaths in 2, 12, 846 accidents. The USA had the highest number of road crashes in the same year 22,11,439, resulting in 37,461 deaths.

Speeding was found to be the major cause of road crashes and fatalities, but two-wheelers were involved in most of the crashes. Tamil Nadu had the highest number of road accidents 57,228, then Madhya Pradesh : 50,669, Uttar Pradesh : 42,572, Kerala 41,111 and Karnataka 40,658.

With 1,463 road deaths in 2019, Delhi remained the top city followed by Jaipur (1,283), Chennai (1,252), and Bengaluru (768).

According to the World Bank, road crash fatalities are three times higher in low-income countries than in high-income countries. The report stated, “There is a distinct correlation between socio- economic status and road use patterns in low and middle income countries and poor people are more likely to be involved in a road traffic crash.”

Income level determines the mode of transport used by an individual in a country like India, and vulnerable road users are forced to share space with less vulnerable road users. This increases the risk faced by a particular road user. World Bank report also states that daily wage workers and casual workers are more likely to be classified as vulnerable than individuals engaged in regular activities.

So, the vulnerable road users in India are poor male users from the working age category, who account for more than half of all road crash fatalities and injuries in India.

Human negligence and a callous attitude on the road are responsible for the majority of these accidents. As children, teachers have taught us to follow traffic rules and be responsible citizens and alert drivers, but as adults we tend to forget the values and rules, resulting in Indians becoming irresponsible citizens without civic sense. As Indians, we actually need to learn to walk on the roads as well because many a time, even though the drivers follow the traffic rules, it is the pedestrians who are at fault.

Despite this, distracted driving is one of the major causes of road accidents. Driving needs undivided attention; READING OR REPLYING TO TEXTS, ATTENDING CALLS, LISTENING TO SONGS CAN WAIT! What good will these things do if you lose your life?

Another dangerous cause of the same is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE! Kindly take a cab home if you’ve had a drink or let your sober friend drive. Don’t think that you won’t be intoxicated after partying the whole night! On another note, TRY QUITTING ALCOHOL AND DRUGS! They are anyhow perilous to your health and life!

The majority of road accidents are caused by speeding. Driving recklessly leads to some of the worst crashes. DO NOT THINK YOU LOOK ‘COOL’ WHILE YOU HIT THE THROTTLE OR PUSH THE ACCELERATOR FURTHER. Speed might thrill you, but it can kill you at any time! Make sure you manage your time well. It is common for people to rush to offices or other locations where they are expected to be because they are running late. You won’t need to become a Formula 1 racer if you arrive on time!

India ignores two things of utmost importance on roads- your helmet and seat belt! Wear your helmet if you’re riding a two-wheeler; your hairstyle won’t save your life, your helmet will. In the same way, why can’t we wear a seat belt while driving? Not only does this maintain our body posture, but it also prevents fatalities in the event of a head-to-head collision. HOW DO YOU THINK IT’LL FEEL WITH THE STEERING WHEEL BREAKING INTO YOUR RIBCAGE? That’s definitely not a pretty sight to imagine or a sensation to be enjoyed!

Last but not least, traffic rules are something we should follow and not just learn in school! Breaking a single rule can prove disastrous, so KEEP ALL YOUR EXCUSES APART AND FOLLOW THE RULES! The reason to rush can wait, but your life will not wait for you to say goodbye!

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