Two, 3-wheeler riders worst hit: WHO
Two and three-wheeler riders accounted for 40% of all traffic deaths in India in 2016, according to WHO’s Global Status Report on Road Safety 2018, which puts the total traffic deaths at 1.5 lakh that year.
The actual number of deaths, however, could be higher as per the report, which estimates that there were 2.99 lakh traffic fatalities. This means, an estimated 22.6 people per 100,000 population died of traffic accidents in India in 2016.
“The highest number of casualties are reported among people on two and three wheelers, and let me add pedestrians, because they do not have a protective exterior exposing them to more injuries. Also, the kind of speed and traffic mix in India means that cars with higher speed limits drive on the same road with two-wheelers with lower speed limit, making them more accident prone,” said Dr Rakhi Dandona who heads the Global Burden of Disease –Road Injuries group for the State-level Disease Burden initiative.
Globally, 1.35 million people died in traffic crashes the same year.
“The report shows that progress has been achieved in important areas such as legislation, vehicle standards and improving access to post-crash care. This progress has not, however, occurred at a pace fast enough. At this rate, the Sustainable Development Goal to halve road traffic deaths by 2020 will not be met,” the report stated.
The estimated number of traffic fatalities is almost double, according to the World Health Organisation Report, which puts the absolute number of deaths at 2.99 lakhs. In 2016, 22.6 people in every 100,000 population died in traffic crashes.
After two and three-wheeler, the highest number of deaths were reported in passengers of cars (12%), drivers and passengers of heavy trucks (11%), and pedestrians (10%) after deaths in two and three wheeler drivers.
Looking at the factors leading to fatalities, the report found that India meets “two to six” international vehicle safety standards. The limit on blood alcohol concentration as per the law in India is 0.03 g/dl. Reducing blood alcohol concentrations from 0.1 g/dl to 0.05 g/dl may contribute to reduction in alcohol related road traffic fatalities by 6 - 18%, the report states.
However, the maximum speed limit on urban and rural roads in India is 100 kmph. This is much higher than the speed of 50 kmph or less the report was looking at. “A 5% reduction in speed can reduce the number of fatalities by 30%,” it said.
“There is a need to take a multi-sectoral approach to tackle road crashes and deaths. There has to better infrastructure that allows for safer travel, better vehicles, improved intervention and enforcement of laws, and a health system that can take care of accident victims. We need to look at the problem from a health perspective. Why should it be under the ministry of road transport and highways?” said Dr Dandona.
India is the fourth-largest vehicle producer in the world.