Road Accidents in India

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    In News

    • Recently, the Minister of Road Transport and Highways has informed in a written reply to the Lok Sabha about the death due to Road Accident in India.

    About

    • Deaths in 2020: As many as 47,984 people on National Highways, including on expressways.
    • Deaths in 2019: 53,872 people died due to road accidents on National Highways, including on expressways.

    Major causes/ Issues

    • The major causes of the accidents on the NHs: were vehicle design and condition, road engineering, speeding, drunken driving/ consumption of alcohol and drugs, driving on the wrong side, jumping the red light, use of mobile phones, etc.
    • Oxygen crisis: Shortage of technically qualified trained drivers to handle Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) tankers were reported during COVID.
    • Issue of Black Spots: Total black spots identified on National Highways based on the data during the period from the year 2016 to 2018 is 5,803
      • In road safety management, an accident blackspot or black spot is a place where road traffic accidents have historically been concentrated.
    • Lack of infrastructure: The absence of over bridges, underpasses and alternative roads for village traffic means that speeding vehicles compete with slow-moving farm and rural traffic.
    • Lack of long-term master plans: Most cities do not have long-term master plans for transport and traffic. Ad hoc and non-uniform solutions to local road situations are common.
    • Lack of knowledge of road safety rules: There is a basic lack of knowledge of road safety rules among users. Driving tests in India never examine the actual driving skills on regular roads.

    Implications of Road accidents

    • High fatality rate: The fatality rates are high in many cities in the subcontinent. India has the dubious distinction of accounting for 6% of the world’s road deaths while having just 1% of the world’s vehicles.
    • The high degree of air pollution: There is also a growing concern over the high degree of air pollution in Indian cities. It is evident that most pollution is caused by motor vehicles.
    • Increased congestion: The growing trend toward private transportation increases congestion. The way to avoid congestion is to travel by mass transport or railways.
    • Social sphere: This concerns job losses and the related financial hardships, loss of amenity and a fatal impact on the functioning of the whole family.
    • Psychological impact: We should not forget that the psychological impact of the consequences of road traffic accidents does not only affect the direct participants but also their families.

    Government initiatives

    • Guidelines: Ministry has issued guidelines for improving road safety through safety audits at all stages such as the design stage, construction stage and O&M stage by engaging independent road safety experts.
    • Advisory to states to create a pool of trained drivers: Taking into account the continuous rise in requirement for transportation of liquid oxygen (LOX), an extended period of oxygen management, adding to the inventory of cryogenic tankers and high fatigue rate due to 24X7 operations.
      • The ministry issued an advisory to states to create a pool of trained drivers for transporting hazardous cargo.
    • e-FIR and State Citizen Service Portals: Five states/UTs, namely Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh have provided the facility of online filing of e-FIR for complaints of theft of vehicles, mobile phones and documents where accused are unknown, through their State Citizen Service Portals.
    • Bharatmala Pariyojana: is a new umbrella program for the highways sector that focuses on optimizing the efficiency of freight and passenger movement across the country by bridging critical infrastructure gaps.
    • Monetize public-funded National Highway (NH) projects: This Model would provide an efficient Operation and Maintenance (O&M) framework requiring reduced involvement of NHAI in projects post construction completion.
    • Vehicle Scrapping Policy: Older vehicles pollute the environment 10 to 12 times more than fit vehicles and pose a risk to road safety.

    Various conventions on Road Safety

    The Brasilia Declaration

    • The Brasilia Declaration, adopted at the second global high-level conference on road safety held in Brazil, lays down recommendations on strengthening existing legislation, adopting sustainable transport and strengthening the post-crash response.

    United Nations Road Safety Collaboration

    • It is an informal consultative mechanism whose goal is to facilitate international cooperation and strengthen global and regional coordination among UN agencies and other international partners to implement UN General Assembly Resolutions on road safety.

    Stockholm Declaration

    • The Stockholm Declaration is ambitious and forward-looking which connects road safety to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

    The International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP)

    • It is a registered charity dedicated to saving lives through safer roads.

    UN Global Road Safety Week

    • It is celebrated every two years highlighting the need for strong leadership for road safety.

    Way Forward

    • India needs to aim for safe and sustainable road systems: Research and development have proved that a range of interventions exists to prevent crashes and injury.
    • Rules in books to be implemented: India has many good intentions, rules and statutes on its books but the gap between what is known to be effective and what is actually practised on the ground is often wide.
    • A commitment to injury prevention is lacking: Mobile ambulance and curative health services are no substitute for prevention.
    • Effective management: As with all public health approaches, road injury prevention requires effective management to put in place sustainable and evidence-based measures and overcome obstacles to implementing safe practices.
    • Road injury surveillance system: India does not seem to have a road injury surveillance system.
      • Under-reporting of road injuries is common and hides a major public health problem; police and health data only provide partial accounts of the magnitude and nature of the issues.
    • Need for accurate data collection systems: There is a need for accurate data collection systems. These will aid in planning interventions and designing better and more appropriate road systems.
    • Periodic fitness certification: Periodic fitness certification for all motorised vehicles, universalisation of road signs and enforcement of law and safety regulations are crucial.
    • Zero tolerance towards underage drivers: We should have zero tolerance for underage drivers. India needs to consider severe penalties for violations; cumulative penalties for recurrent infringements should result in temporary withdrawal of licences or a permanent ban on driving.
    • Strategies from developed countries can be adopted: Along with that, there is also a need to study the local context and implement relevant interventions and plans to improve road safety.

    Source: IE