India sees 1.4 lakh road accident deaths every year. Time for action

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India sees 1.4 lakh road accident deaths every year. Time for action

TV channels are full of outrage about an Indian Air Force corporal, Abhimanyu Gaud, being run over by a politician's son in Kolkata.

It's ironic that this incident has occurred while India observes 'Road Safety Week'.

India observes this every January, and this year, the designated week is 11-17 January. The theme for this year is 'Road Safety - Time for Action'.

Read- NCRB report: 5.83 lakh Indians died in accidents and suicides in 2014

It is indeed a time for action. The dismal state of road safety in India is evident from the statistics - it is the world leader in road fatalities. And even worse than the numbers is the dreadful effect it has on citizens.

Consider some of these appalling facts:

6,88,812

  • The number of deaths due to road accidents reported in India from 2010 to 2014.
  • If you wanted to fly these many people somewhere, you would need 1,200 Airbus A380s, the largest civilian airliner in the world.
  • This is also higher than malaria deaths around the world.

  • The European Union reported 25,700 road accident deaths in 2014, while India reported 141,526 - approximately five times more.
  • On average, this means 137,762 fatalities every year.

48,65,394

km

  • The total length of the road network in India, as of March 2012, making it the second network in the world after USA.

  • In 2010, the rate of people dying in road accidents was 1.2 per thousand persons. In 2014, it improved to 0.9.
  • In the same period, however, road accidents increased by 4.7%.

  • The number of vehicles on the roads increased by a whopping 38.7%.

Rs 11,000

crore

  • The amount the Union government plans to spend between 2015 and 2019 to improve the situation at accident hot spots like dangerous intersections.
  • This means just Rs 2,200 crore per year for road safety.
  • This is only 5% of the Central investment into the National Highway Authority of India in 2015-16.

  • Some other measures the government wants to introduce include compulsory airbags in cars, establishing a road safety authority and introducing the Road Transport and Safety Bill.
  • The Bill envisages new statutory bodies that are accountable to Parliament, reforms in the licencing and permit systems and increase in punishments.

Also read- Every four minutes a person dies in a road accident: PM Modi's #MannKiBaat

88

%

  • According to the NGO SaveLife Foundation, 88% of bystanders do not help road crash victims due to the fear of legal problems.

  • Half the road crash victims die from treatable injuries.
  • There is also a 111% underreporting of road accidents.

3

%

  • Annual loss due to road accidents as a share of India's GDP.
  • Though India accounts for 1% of global vehicles, 10% of global car crash deaths occur in India.
  • Analysis by the government shows that 2 lakh lives can be saved in five years, and the GDP improved by 4%, if the proposed Bill is followed in its entirety.

The importance of road safety can be understood by the fact that the United Nations has also declared 2011-20 as the 'Decade of Action on Road Safety'. It's high time some concrete steps were taken.

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Sourjya  Bhowmick

Sourjya Bhowmick @sourjyabhowmick