Prime minister Narendra Modi bats for road safety in India

by Amit Panday , 28 Jul 2015

The fast-climbing road accident and fatality rates in the country have caught prime minister Narendra Modi’s attention.

In his monthly radio programme, Mann Ki Baat, broadcast on July 26, he took up the cause of road safety and the high road accident rates. He said, “Whether it is education relating to road safety, road engineering, enforcing the law, or providing emergency care to those injured in an accident, we are going to bring a road safety and transport bill keeping all these points in mind.”

The prime minister added that the government would look to implement a national Road Safety Policy and Road Safety Action Plan. He also said that a programme to provide immediate cashless treatment to accident victims will be worked upon.

Rising road accidents in India

It would not be wrong to say that every rural or urban Indian citizen, in his/her circle of family, friends or even acquaintances, would know of at least one person who has died in a road accident. Road accidents are turning out to be one of the major contributors to the loss of lives in developing nations, and India, as reports point out, tops that list.

The World Health Organisation, which has termed the ongoing decade (2011-2020) as the decade of action for road safety, had come out with key findings in its report titled ‘Saving millions of lives’ in the past.

This report highlighted that road traffic crashes take the lives of nearly 1.3 million people globally every year, and injure 20-50 million more. It points out that while this has become a leading cause of death for people aged 15-29 years, over 90 percent of road traffic accidents and injuries occur in low-income and middle-income countries, which have only 48 percent of the world’s registered vehicle population.

“In addition to the grief and suffering they cause, road traffic crashes result in considerable economic losses to victims, their families, and nations as a whole, costing most countries 1-3 percent of their gross national product (GNP). While without action, road traffic crashes are predicted to result in the deaths of around 1.9 million people annually by 2020, only 15 percent of all countries in the world have comprehensive laws relating to the five key risks – speeding, drinking and driving, non-use of helmets and seat belts and child restraints,” quotes the WHO report.

In India’s context, a recently released report on accidental deaths and suicides in India (for the year 2014) by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, points out that a total number of 481,805 traffic accidents comprising of 450,898 road accidents, 28,360 railway accidents and 2,547 railway crossing accidents were reported during 2014. These accidents together caused 141,526, 25,006 and 2,575 deaths respectively last year.

“Road transport is vital to India’s economy as it contributes nearly 4.8 percent share towards the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). For the first time an effort has been made by the Bureau to capture a comprehensive data on road accidents using revised proformae,” the report says.

Revealing the 2014 statistics, it mentions that while the road accident cases in the country have increased by 1.8 percent in 2014 (450,898 cases) as compared to 2013 (443,001 cases), the fatalities in road accidents have gone up by 2.9 percent during 2014. The 450,898 road accidents that were recorded last year caused 141,526 deaths including deaths of 34,252 offending drivers and pedestrians.


UP, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu top traffic accidents

According to the report, the above-mentioned 481,805 traffic accidents resulted in injuries to 481,739 persons and 169,107 deaths during the last calendar year. “The states of Uttar Pradesh followed by Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have reported maximum fatalities in traffic accidents in the country. These three states together have accounted for 33.3 percent of total fatalities reported at all India level,” quotes the NCRB report.

In terms of the vehicle type involved in the accident, it states that two-wheelers accounted for maximum fatal road accidents contributing 26.4 percent of total road accidental deaths. That is followed by trucks / lorries (20.1 percent), cars (12.1 percent) and buses (8.8 percent).


In a detailed analysis of the causes that contributed to the road accidents in 2014, the report discloses that over-speeding accounted for 36.8 percent of total accidents which caused 48,654 deaths and injuries to 181,582 people.

On the other hand, dangerous or careless driving (including overtaking) caused 137,808 road accidents that resulted in 42,127 deaths and injuries to 138,533 people last year. While 3.2 percent of all road accidents happened due to poor weather conditions, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs contributed to the tune of 1.6 percent.

A city-wise classification of road crashes point out that a total of 83,721 traffic accidents (causing injuries to 73,778 people and 18,124 deaths) were reported in 53 cities during 2014. Maximum fatalities on road were recorded in Delhi (2,199) followed by Chennai (1,046), Bhopal (1,015) and Jaipur (844) subsequently. A cause-wise analysis across these 53 cities in India reveals that dangerous / careless driving and overtaking and over-speeding contributed to 39 percent and 31.2 percent respectively.


Highlights of the NCRB report:

-  51 road accidents took place every hour during 2014, wherein 16 persons were killed.

-  During 2014, a total of 450,898 cases of ‘road accidents’ were reported which rendered 477,731 persons injured and 141,526 deaths.

-  Deaths due to road accidents in the country have increased by 2.9% during 2014 (141,526) over 2013 (137,423).

-  Tamil Nadu (67,250 cases), followed by Maharashtra (44,382 cases), Karnataka (43,694 cases), Madhya Pradesh (39,698 cases) and Kerala (35,872 cases) have reported the maximum number of road accidents accounting for 14.9%, 9.8%, 9.7%, 8.8% and 8.0% respectively of such accidents in the country.

-  Maximum fatalities in road accidents were reported in Uttar Pradesh at 11.5% followed by Tamil Nadu (10.7%) and Maharashtra (9.6%) during 2014.

-  26.4% victims of road accidents were two-wheeler riders. Trucks/ lorries, cars and buses accounted for 20.1%, 12.1% and 8.8% respectively of road accidental deaths.

-  National Highways accounted for 27.5% of total road accidents, followed by State Highways (25.2%).

-  Most of the road accidents were due to overspeeding, accounting for 36.8% of total accidents which caused 48,654 deaths and left 181,582 persons injured. Dangerous/careless driving or overtaking caused 137,808 road accidents which rendered 42,127 deaths and 138,533 persons injured during 2014. Further, 3.2% of road accidents were due to poor weather condition.

-  A total of 836 accidental deaths were reported at unmanned railways crossing during 2014.

-  54.7% and 45.3% of road accidents were reported in rural areas (246,768 cases) and urban areas (204,130 cases) respectively during 2014. Most of the road accidents were reported at a place near a residential area (16.5% in rural areas and 16.4% in urban areas).


Data Source: National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Ministry of Home Affairs, government of India

Photographs: Subhash Simhudu & Autocar Professional