Each year around 1.3 million lives are lost globally because of road accidents, and India alone, 1,53,972 lives were lost alone in 2021 as per the official data from the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways. This translates to 421 individuals who never made it home every day or 17 people dying every hour each day.
What is shocking is that despite such a high number of alarming incidents, many road users still don’t follow the basic safety protocol.
Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh see the major number of road accidents and fatalities
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) 93 percent of the world’s fatalities on the roads occur in low- and middle-income countries, even though these countries have approximately 60% of the world’s vehicles. These incidents cost most countries 3 percent of their gross domestic product.
In terms of state-wise ranking Tamil Nadu followed by Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala were the top 5 states in terms of the total number of road accidents in 2021.
On the other hand, in terms of road fatalities, Uttar Pradesh followed by Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan were the top 5 states where the most number of lives were lost because of road accidents.
Overspeeding number #1 cause of deaths
The maximum speed limit in most cities in India is around 60kmph, highways 80-100kmph, and is now being proposed to increase to 140kmph on National Highways.
But at the same time, when one analyses the data for the number of road accidents and the key factors behind the same. It comes as no surprise the majority or 72.5 percent of all accidents and 69.3 percent of all deaths, 73.4 percent of injuries in a road accident was due to overspeeding.
The factors that influence such behaviour include but are not limited to untrained and unqualified drivers, lack of road discipline, overconfidence in the ability to drive/ride the vehicle, lack of focus, driving under influence of alcohol/drugs or even lack of sleep among others can be factors behind the situation.
Introduction of stringent policies
Looking at the abysmal display towards road safety, and the challenges associated with it. The government of India has been proactively working on introducing and implementing stringent safety norms.
In fact, the recent high-profile mishaps in the country have accelerated the government’s focus on reducing the number of road accidents across the country. The year 2022, saw major accidents and have claimed several lives and injured many including – Cyrus Mistry in September 2022 and more recently Indian cricketer Rishabh Pant.
India became the first country in the world to mandate ABS (Anti Braking Systems) from April 1, 2019 for two-wheelers and four-wheelers. For two-wheelers having the power of less than 125cc, a combined braking system is now mandatory.
Then came the mandate of 2 airbags – one each for the driver and the front passenger – from July 2019 and consequetly mandating 6 airbags in the vehicle originally planned for October 2022, which has now been pushed to October 2023.
Several cities across the country also have started stringent enforcement of helmets for two-wheeler users both – rider and pillion and seatbelts for all passengers in the vehicle.
Introducing the tyre rating or the proposed Bharat NCAP norms are also expected to bring the issue of vehicular safety to the forefront.
But the important thing is that, while automakers can be pushed to make active and passive safety features as standard, government can enforce stricter regulations, the onus still lies on the road user to ensure safe behaviour, not just for the vehicle occupants but also other road users.