National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shows that 16 lives are lost in road accidents in India every hour.
Curbing road accidents is the need of the hour
Basic Rules Violated:
- Jumping Signals
- Avoiding seatbelts
- Avoiding safety helmets
- Over speeding
- Driving in the wrong lane
- Texting while driving
- Drinking and driving
Dismal as it might sound, road accident deaths in India are normal. According to the World Health Organization, India was ranked second highest in the number of fatalities caused due to road accidents in 2014, with 238,562 lives lost.
The data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shows that 16 lives are lost in road accidents in India every hour! What is even more alarming is the fact that this number is growing at the rate of 3% year on year. The five Indian cities that witness the highest number of road accident deaths are Delhi, Chennai, Jaipur, Bengaluru and Mumbai respectively.
Issues related to road safety have been discussed and highlighted when dignitaries like Gopinath Munde and Sahib Singh Verma, and celebrities such as Jaspal Bhatti and Paul Walker (of the Fast & Furious fame) were killed in car accidents. However, it is a lesser-known fact that the number of paramilitary personnel who die in road accidents is four times more than those battling terrorists or insurgents.
Why is it then that we are unable to curb the menace? Why do these road accidents occur? When asked about the key challenges around these, Mr. Siddaramaiah, Chief Minister of Karnataka said, "The approach to any road safety management initiative should consider that humans as road users are fallible and will make mistakes, but at the same time, should recognize that road safety is a fundamental human right". Therefore, it is indeed a tightrope.
The root cause of this problem can also be traced to the inadequacies of The Indian Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, which regulates all the aspects related to road safety. The need of the hour is to amend the archaic act to introduce stricter provisions for issuing licenses and punishing offenders.
Another major factor that contributes towards making our roads unsafe is the poor implementation of traffic rules. While rash and negligent driving account for a large number of accidents, the quality of our roads accentuates the problem. Potholes, unfinished roads, low-quality material, and faulty or missing road signs make our roads extremely dangerous.
While a lot can be done to reduce the number of fatal accidents, a significant amount of effort is also required for developing the emergency response system after an accident has taken place. Hundreds of lives are lost solely due to the lack of timely medical assistance.
There have been a few positive developments such as a mandatory test to ascertain a candidate's knowledge of the basic signs and signals. Additionally, experts have shared suggestions like ongoing testing, longer waiting period for learners to obtain license, comprehensive background screening, psychological testing, thorough eye examination, and some more stringent driving tests. Government-led initiatives and several NGOs and celebrities have also been instrumental in developing road safety programs and awareness campaigns across major cities.
The government is currently working to iron out the provisions of the proposed Road Transport and Safety Bill, which attempts to develop a framework for safer, faster, cost-effective and inclusive movement of passengers and freight across the country.
However, what is more important is bringing about a substantial change in people's mindset, since most road accidents are avoidable by sticking to a few basic rules and following traffic regulations.