Road Accidents in India: No way for pedestrians, cyclists

On World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, let’s take a look at how road accidents decreased but more people died in them

By Kundan Pandey
Published: Sunday 18 November 2018
Road accidents kill more pedestrians, cyclists, people from the lower middleclass and the economically poor. Credit: Getty Images

While the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has not published any data on road accidents for the last couple of years, the only way to better understand how unsafe Indian roads are is to refer to the occasional statements made by government officials or ministers. They claim that there is “significant reduction in road accidents and fatalities”.

On July 26, the Minister of State for Road Transport and Shipping and Chemical and Fertilizers Mansukh L Mandaviya had claimed that there is a reduction of 3.3 per cent in road accidents and fatalities in 2017 as compared to 2016. He also said that there is 1.9 per cent fall in the number of people killed in road accidents in 2017.

On September 6, 2017, Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari had said that road accidents in the country have decreased by around 4.1 per cent in 2016. The country had witnessed 4.8 lakh road accidents as compared to 5.01 lakh in 2015. However, he said that fatalities resulting from these accidents had increasing. There was increase of 3.2 per cent in road traffic victims in the year since nearly 1.5 lakh people were killed in 2016 as against 1.46 lakh in 2015.

Down To Earth had published a cover story in 2015 and found that road accidents kill more pedestrians, cyclists, people from the lower middleclass and the economically poor. In that year, the number of pedestrians killed was nine per cent of total fatalities in road accidents. Two-wheeler users killed in road accidents accounted for almost 25 per cent.

Most of the victims were from the poor strata of the society. A research done in 2004 for the non-profit Global Road Safety Partnership in Bengaluru had highlighted this fact. This research had concluded that relatives of victims often borrow money, sell assets, give up studies or take up extra work just to survive. The research concluded that 71 per cent of the urban poor and 53 per cent of the rural poor bereaved households were not poor before the accident.

The DTE cover story has found that the main reason for huge number of accidents and fatalities are because the roads are not designed for pedestrians, cyclists and these people have to negotiate with big vehicles on road. They have to put their lives on risk if they have to go on the road.

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