Issue of Road Safety in India

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    2060

    Context

    • The recent death of former Tata Group chairman Cyrus Mistry in an road accident again spotlighted the high numbers of fatalities that Indian roads witness every year.

    Status of Road Accidents in India

    • As per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, there are around 1.5 lakh deaths on India’s roads every year, of which one third are accounted for by National Highways.

    • Though India accounts for about 1% of motor vehicles globally, it records more than 11% of road traffic deaths.
    • Lancet Report: India accounts for almost 10% of all crash-related deaths, while accounting for only 1% of the world’s vehicles.

    What are the major causes of Road Accidents?

    • Over speeding and undisciplined driving:  Approx  50000 accidents in India are on account of over speeding.
    • Motorization and Urbanisation: Are also the main causes of road crash fatalities. 
    • Faulty road designs: Lack of caution signs, big potholes, illegal speed breakers.
    • Weak Vehicle safety standards in India: 
    • Ineffective and inefficient road regulations: Due to lack of caution signs, big potholes, illegal speed breakers.
    • Encroachment of road: Unruly road congestion caused by hawkers disrupts normal movements of vehicles.
    • Laxity in driving license regulations: Lax procedure in obtaining a driving license
    • Inefficient public transport: The paucity of end to end public transport and its inefficiencies in India leads to the public opting for private vehicles. 

    Impact of Road Accidents

    • Social effects of Road Traffic Accidents:  Include loss of productivity of the victims, the cost of the legal system, burden on the health sector and loss of quality of life.
    • Economic Effect: As per UN report, reducing road traffic deaths and injuries could result in substantial long-term income gains (Fair movement of goods, Logistics).
      • India loses 3% of its GDP due to road accidents.
    • Burden on Women: About 40% of women reported a change in their working patterns post-accident (More responsibility, more burden of family)

    Lancet study on Road 

    • Steps taken to check vehicle speed on roads in India could alone have the biggest impact on ensuring road safety.
    • Focusing on four key risk factors such as speeding, drunk driving, non-use of crash helmets and seatbelts.
    • Steps undertaken to reduce speeding such as infrastructure changes and electronic speed control could save an estimated 3,47,258 lives globally each year.

    Laws and Initiatives

    • Global Initiatives:
      • Brasilia Declaration on Road Safety (2015): Adopted at the second global high-level conference on road safety held in Brazil. (India signatory to this) 
      • International Road Assessment programme (iRAP): A registered charity dedicated to saving lives through safer roads. 
      • Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030: Sets an ambitious target of preventing at least 50% of road traffic deaths and injuries by 2030.
      • Geneva Convention: India, being a signatory to Convention on International Road Traffic of 1949 (Geneva Convention). 
    • Indian:
      • Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act: The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 was brought in to improve road safety in India by amending Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
      • The amendment Act has introduced heavy fines for various offences
      • 3-Year Action Agenda of NITI Aayog: Highlighting the Standardizing the reporting of accidents & action map thereafter.

    Way Ahead to Mitigate the Road Accidents

    • Education and awareness about road safety measures.
    • Strict regulation & Enforcement of Law (Opting latest technology like RF Speed detections).
    • Vehicle design and Road infrastructure need to be as per the safety standards.
    • Proper training & capacity building is the need of the hour.

    Source: IE