- The Indian commuters are not inclined to follow the road safety rules at the best of times will be an understatement that cannot be disputed by any right-minded individuals. We are prone to break the rules and regulations with impunity while commuting is also not lost on the discernible lot. You only have to get on to any roads in the country to experience the chaos firsthand where very few show awareness to consciously follow the laid down traffic rules. It is also true that we are genetically prone to break traffic rules rather than follow them with diligence. Honestly, tell me on how many occasions we have been guilty of breaking the traffic rules.
PC: Sanskriti Menon
- Not that our roads are fabulously built and maintained making the commuters feel extremely gung-ho while traversing. Just ask the commuters of Bengaluru how it feels to commute on the dreaded city roads. Of course, poor enforcement of traffic rules also essays a major role in leading to widespread indiscipline we are so used to witnessing with unbridled nonchalance. Conversely, laxity and general apathy displayed by the corruption-riddled government enforcement authorities need not be elaborated further. This being the scenario, what do the statistics point out about road fatalities?
- You cannot expect any surprises since the story continues to remain the same year after year on this front. With 2021 logging the highest ever count of road fatalities – 1.56 lakh deaths – the awful prospect of these senselessly tragic deaths repeating in greater numbers in coming years looms large. The grim number suggests governments at all levels aren’t doing enough either. Note that two-wheelers accounted for 44.5% of deaths, up from 35% in 2018, and pedestrian deaths have doubled since then to 12% of deaths. While the NCRB report blames over-speeding for 60% of deaths and dangerous/careless driving for 26% of deaths, the latest Union ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) road accidents reports is more nuanced.
- MoRTH’s numbers show a staggering 70% of two-wheeler travellers killed in 2020 weren’t wearing helmets, and that 84% of car travellers who died weren’t wearing seatbelts. The Motor Vehicles Act amended in 2019 has made seat belts and helmets compulsory. But enforcement is lax. Equally importantly, a 2020 IIT Delhi study on road safety has suggested more focus on street and highway design and enforcement rather than the current overwhelming focus on motor vehicle safety. Yes, the predictable and uniform designs of medians, intersections, lanes, shoulders, and pedestrian paths are absent in most urban centres.
- You would agree that most highways still lack enough safe crossing facilities for motorists and pedestrians while illegal openings in medians are a constant nightmare. Some innovations like Tamil Nadu offering Rs 1 lakh accident cover to ensure private and public medical care within the golden hour saw a 70% drop in accidents. Ultimately, let’s recognise that careful driving and courteousness to other road users should be imbibed to Indian road users right at the time of granting a riding/driving licence. Strict enforcement of rules duly backed by considerable deterrence measures should work as well. Mind you, implementation of these measures on the ground is key to curbing fatalities.