Indian roads continue to be one of the deadliest in the world. Seventeen people were killed every hour -- one person dead in 3.5 minutes and at least 400 in a day – in 2015, latest government data reveals, once again stressing the need to make driving and roads safe.
Delhi, notorious for congested roads and drivers’ indifference to traffic rules, reported most deaths – 1,622— during the year in which the country’s financial hub Mumbai saw 23,468 accidents, the highest in the country.
What is worrying is that accidents and fatalities are rising despite several measures taken by the government and courts. The Centre is planning drastic changes in law for harsher punishments and heftier fines for traffic violations. It has also come up with guidelines for manufacturers to make their vehicles safer but the blood bath continues unchecked.
The latest road transport ministry report says 5,01,423 accidents were reported in 2015, up from 4,89,000 the year before. Similarly, 146,000 lakh lives were snuffed out on streets against 139,000 in 2014. According to International Road Federation’s latest data, only Russia reported more accidents than India in 2015.
Another concern is the large number of young victims. More than half of the dead— 54.1 % — were in the 15-34 age group.
Drivers – driver’s fault as the study calls it – were responsible for 71% of the accidents in a country where vehicle sales have gone through the roof in recent years. They also accounted for 72.6 % deaths, says the report released by road transport minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday. Defected roads, vehicles and pedestrians also share the blame.
Almost 30% of licences in India were bogus, the minister had said last year, promising a crack down on fake licences that can be obtained for as little as Rs 2, 500.
Reflecting a rising tide of motorisation in villages, rural India, where compliance of traffic rules is poor and roads inadequate, reported 2,69,529 accidents in 2015 compared with 2,31,894 in the cities.
“India needs to put in place urgent measures to bring down the number of road accidents. Though a lot of initiatives have been taken in the last two years, a lot more needs to be done, especially since India is also a signatory to Brasilia Declaration and has committed to reduce the number of road accidents and fatalities by 50 % by 2020,” a road ministry official said.
Tamil Nadu is the worst offender among the states, with 69,059 accidents followed by Maharashtra (63,805), Madhya Pradesh (54, 947), Karnataka (44,011).