The Mumbai- Pune Expressway on Sunday saw a deadly accident which was widely reported in the media. A bus rammed into two cars, killing seventeen people and injuring 30 others.
This was just another accident among the 14,500 accidents that the 94 km Expressway has seen since its construction in 2002.
Over the years, India has seen a steep rise in road accidents. According to a report on road accidents in India released by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, 2015 has seen the greatest rise in number of accidents in five years- 12,023 accidents more than the previous years. Such a massive rise has not been seen since 2010 when the number of accidents rose by 13,244.
From around 4.4 lakh annual accidents in 2005, India saw over 5 lakh accidents in 2015. In this period, fatalities rose from 94,968 to 1,46,133 for the same time period. The report says that thirteen top states namely Tamil Nadu (69,059), Maharashtra (63,805), Madhya Pradesh (54,947), Karnataka (44,011), Kerala (39,014), Uttar Pradesh (32,385), Andhra Pradesh (24,258), Rajasthan (24,072), Gujarat (23,183), Telengana (21,252), Chhattisgarh (14,446),West Bengal (13,208) and Haryana (11,174) together account for 86.7 per cent of all road accidents in the country.
The data shows that on an average day 1324 accidents occur on Indian roads leading to the death of 349 people. This means 55 accidents and 15 lives lost per hour. In other words, a life lost every four minutes. A terrifying number!
Accident severity has also reached its highest with 29 people dying in every 100 accidents.
Harman Singh, President, Arrive Safe, a Chandigarh-based road safety NGO, says that apart from actual increase the rising numbers could also be due to more cases of accidents being reported. "With accidents, generally the affected parties just reach informal agreements and do not report it. Only when there are fatal accidents do officials get involved and then there is a formal reporting. Often, the actual figures are much higher than what are reported."
The number of vehicles being registered in India is ever increasing. From 6.7 crore vehicles registered in 2003, the number has steeply increased to 18.2 crore in 2013. While currently 27 kilometres of roads are being built everyday, the road transport and highways ministry aims to construct per day more than 40 kms of roads in the fiscal year of 2016-17. However, it remains to be seen if the ministry will succeed in reducing road accidents in the near future.
Though the report says that 77.1 per cent of times, accidents take place due to the drivers’ fault, Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport and Highways, admitted that "faulty road engineering" could also be one of the major causes for road accidents. Speaking to PTI he said, “Human sacrifices cannot be allowed. We have taken a slew of steps in the last two years to minimise this, including launch of Pradhan Mantri Sadak Suraksha Yojana and earmarking 1 percent of the project cost for road safety that translates to Rs 5,000 crore on it."
Further Rs. 11,000 crores have been allocated to fix 726 ‘black spots’ on national highways in the coming five years. The black spots have been identified based on the deaths reported from fatal highway stretches during the three years from 2011 to 2013. According to government guidelines, a black spot is classified as a location on a national highway that witnesses more than 10 accidents a year.
To grade the safety of Indian cars and make them safer an agency will be set up -the Bharat National Car Assessment Programme. Even scooters and motorcycles in India will have automatic headlamps on.
The Ministry is also hoping that the passage of the Road Safety Bill will further bring down road fatalities.
But Harman Singh, speaking to Firstpost, makes a vital point. "Identifying and fixing black spots may not be the only solution. A black spot maybe corrected, but four- five kilometres away from there a new spot may arise. What is required is identification of problematic zones and dedicated teams to analyse the issues," he says.
Updated Date: Jun 10, 2016 16:15 PM