Sunday, April 20, 2008

The dangerous roads ?

Driving on Indian roads is not an easy call. Every day, many lives are lost on roads all over India. The number of people, who die on road accidents, has been increasing every year. However, this can be prevented by adopting some safety measures

The World Road Statistics, 2006, which provided the data for the year 2003 in respect of India, indicated that the number of persons killed per lakh of population in India was 8.08. As per the preliminary tentative data shared by KH Muniyappa, minister of state for shipping, road transport and highways, in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, as per the press note released by Press Information Bureau on December 6, 2007, which covers the majority of States and Union Territories, the number of deaths due to road accident is estimated at more than a lakh (1,01,439) during the year 2006, as compared to the figure of 94,968 deaths for the year 2005. This clearly indicates that Indian roads are perilous.

Looking at the data for year 2005, the capital city of India, Delhi, had reported 1,717 deaths on its roads in year 2005, which was highest in India. Among other cities, which reported the highest number of deaths on roads was Chennai, the second highest behind Delhi with 1,055 deaths, followed by 835 in Bangalore, 787 in Mumbai, 598 in Kanpur, 577 in Hyderabad, 495 in Jaipur and 484 in Kolkata. It may be pertinent to note here that two third of people, who died on road in the year 2005, were in the 15-44 age bracket, meaning we are loosing lives at young age. And it is not that only heavy vehicles, which are responsible for this, data revealed that smaller vehicles, like cars and two wheelers contribute virtually as much as heavier vehicles like trucks.

But it is not that we cannot respond to this and let people die on its road. China has been able to bring down its road death tally. In the year 2005, 98,738 people died on road accidents in China, which came down to 89,455 in year 2006. China has reported a drop of 10.8 per cent in road accidents for last four consecutive years staring from 2003, despite registering a growth in the number of privately owned cars. This means it is possible, maybe something we can learn from them.

This issue raises concern on how lives get wasted in India, which can be prevented. It is matter of roads, road safety; emergency services available post accidents on roads, safety standards, condition of vehicles on road, drivers behind wheels, visibility on the road etc, meaning we need a sustained and multi pronged approach to address this. But the bigger question is that who will do it? Governments of India, passes on the buck to state that this issue fall under state domain, while the state says that it has limited resources and cannot do beyond. Whosever domain it may fall, fact is that India needs to prevent this to happen and guarantee its citizens certain amount of life security on the road and there needs to be accountability for the same.

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