India ranks first in the number of road
accident deaths among all the 195 countries of the world and accounts for
nearly 11 percent of the accident-related deaths in the world. Road accidents
are a leading cause of death, disabilities and hospitalisation in the
country. More than four lakh accidents occur every year on India’s roads.
Over 150,000 people die in those accidents annually.
India’s national highways are big killers. The highways comprise only
two percent of total road networks in the country but they account for about
36 percent of deaths. State highways which constitute three percent of the
road length claimed 25 percent of deaths due to accidents. The remaining 39
percent deaths occurred on the smaller roads which constitute about 95
percent of the total roads. When roads are good, they kill more people, it
There are multiple causes for road
accidents. These comprise human error, over-speeding, drunk driving,
disregard of traffic signals and driving without license. It is generally
agreed that four elements are involved in preventing road accidents. They are
education, enforcement, engineering and emergency care. Education involves
creating awareness among people regarding road safety practices. Enforcement
is about implementing laws and regulations effectively. Engineering deals
with proper road design and maintenance. Emergency care implies advanced life
support systems including ambulance services.
Kerala witnesses a record number of road
accidents every year. The most telling fact, perhaps, is that young adults in
the age group of 18 to 40 years account for 70 percent of the road victims.
By coincidence, an equal percentage of road accident deaths take place in
rural areas. Among vehicle categories, two-wheelers account for the highest
share in total accidents and fatalities.
A few months back, speaking at the
valedictory ceremony of the state-level observance of the National Road
Safety Week, which aims to drive home the point of safe driving and adherence
to speed limit, the transport minister Antony Raju said, “Youth can lead the
change by being responsible for their own life and that of others. This can
in turn usher in a new driving culture.”
Given the country’s statistics for deaths
on the roads, India does stand in need of a different driving culture.