Highway to Hell: Cost of road accidents high for low-income households, govt must ease compensation norms

By: |
February 19, 2021 7:30 AM

The government needs to allow no-claims treatment in case of road accidents

Though not a pan-India study, it does outline the areas that need improvement to reduce suffering.Though not a pan-India study, it does outline the areas that need improvement to reduce suffering.

The fact that India accounts for merely 1% of the total vehicles on the planet, but 6% of the global road accidents and 11% of related deaths—per a 2018 study by the road transport & highways ministry, underscores the crushing burden of traffic hazard the country already shoulders.

Now, a study by the World Bank and save Life Foundation makes clear that the problem is more acute for low-income households (LIHs) in the country. It assesses the cost of accidents on LIHs and higher income households (HIHs) across four states and finds that persons from LIHs were four times more likely to die in the post-accident scenario than persons from HIHs.

Also, while HIHs lost 54% of their income after an accident, LIHs lost 75%; the financial consequences for the latter are exacerbated by the higher out-of-pocket healthcare expenditure they incur. Also, while 24% of HIH respondents received compensation, averaging Rs 1,62,562, from insurance companies, only 14% of poorer respondents received this, averaging Rs 89,215.

Though not a pan-India study, it does outline the areas that need improvement to reduce suffering. One, the concept of liability needs to be fixed, and cases need to be cleared faster so that people do not spend years litigating for claims.

More important, the government needs to allow no-claims treatment in case of road accidents. While some states have this scheme, there is no central government framework to implement this across geographies.

The issue of compensation also needs to be resolved. To this end, the report recommends “the interim compensation envisaged under Section 164A of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 should be implemented to ensure mechanism for quick compensation as direct credit in Aadhaar linked bank accounts of the family member.”

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