India has still to get a good grip on road safety

News: Government aims to reduce 50% of road accidents by 2025 and to achieve zero deaths due to road accidents by 2030.

Read here: 3rd High Level Global Conference on Road Safety
What is the present condition of road safety in India?

According to Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, number of deaths in road accidents increased from 1,42,485 in 2011 to 1,51,113 in 2019. The data for 2020 does not out yet, but the annual publication of the National Crime Records Bureau, titled Accidental Deaths & Suicides in India (2020) shows that 1,33,201 deaths were recorded in 2020. The reduction was seen because of the curbs imposed due to the COVID 19.

Read here: India had most deaths in road accidents in 2019: Report

However, the fatality (that is a number of deaths per 100 accidents), continued to rise from 26.9 in 2001 to 28.63 in 2011 to 37.54 in 2020. Thus, it is evident that despite setting a target of a 50% reduction in accidental deaths, there is still increase in the fatalities from road accidents.

What are the court rulings regarding the road safety?

SC while hearing petition on road safety, ordered to constitute a ‘Committee on Road Safety’ under the chairmanship of Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan. Court also issued several directives with regard to road safety like constitution of a State Road Safety Council, establishment of lead agency, the setting up of road safety fund, notification of a road safety action plan, the constitution of a district road safety committee, engineering improvements, etc

What are the lacunae present in system related to road safety?

Manpower: India do not have enough manpower comparing with increasing volume of traffic. The automation of processes is still in its infancy and limited to large cities.

Inadequate funds: There are not enough funds for the rectification of black spots and the undertaking of traffic calming measures. Also, when more than 60% of road accidents are because of over-speeding, ‘speed limit’ signboards are rarely seen or found even on State highways and major roads.

Work benefits: Drivers, conductors, and other staff in transport companies (except for government corporations) do not get benefits of the organised sector. They are paid less, do not get weekly off, and are most often forced to work overtime. Unless their service conditions are improved, their attitude towards road safety cannot be rectified.

No proper implementation of guidelines: In India, there is no focus on improve the driving skills of drivers. Even getting a driver’s license is a very easy process. There is no standard written and rigorous practical test. Many States do not have test-driving tracks. There are no institutes for refresher training if a driving licence of a person is suspended. Though the amended Motor Vehicles Act has certain provisions in this regard, they have yet to come into force.

Although government makes it mandatory to wear safety head gears, these rules are not enforced strictly in all States due to a lack of strong will. Even an amended provision that relates to ‘Offences by Juveniles’ is not enforced strictly.

Read here: The issue of Road Safety in India – Explained pointwise

What steps did government initiate to prevent road accidents?

Central Government has launched a central accident database called Integrated Road Accident Database(IRAD).

Read here: Road Safety: Importance, challenges and solutions


Source: This post is based on the article “India has still to get a good grip on road safety” published in The Hindu on 18th February 2022.

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