Road Accidents – UPSC GS2

  • 400 people lost their lives every day on India’s roads : Road Safety Report, 2015
  • As per WHO, nearly 2,00,000 people are killed in road accidents in India, second highest globally behind China
  • United Nations had promulgated the UN Decade of Action targeting to reduce road accidents by 50% by the year 2020.
  • Indian roads became deadlier than ever with a total of 1.51 lakh people dying in 4.81 lakh accidents.
  • Youth in the age group of 15 to 24 years comprise 33% of the total fatalities.
  • Riders on motorized 2-3 wheelers have the highest mortality rate.
  • The cost of road accidents in the country is equivalent to 3% of GDP.
  • In August 2020, the UNGA adopted a resolution for the betterment of global road safety and declared 2021-2030 as the Decade of Action for Road Safety.
    • This sets an ambitious target of reducing 50% of road traffic deaths and injuries by 2030 achieving SDG6.
    • The Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways, the Government of India, in alignment with the targets and objectives of the global action plan, declared to reduce 50% of the road accidents by 2025 and bring down the number of deaths due to road accidents to zero by 2030.
What are the reasons for high number of road accidents in India?
  1. Boom in automobile sector and parallel rise of the Indian middle class has increased volume of vehicles on the road. On the other hand, road infrastructure and standards have not improved accordingly.
  2. Cases of drunk driving, rash driving, overtaking and disrespect of traffic rules have increased.
  3. Not following safety standards like lane driving, traffic lights, wearing helmets and seatbelts, etc.
  4. Rapid urbanization of cities and expanding of their limits.
  5. Legislative Issues:
    • The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) act 2019 that incorporated provisions of penalty for violation of traffic rules, has not been implemented uniformly in all states. The proper implementation of the act is necessary to achieve the target of a 50% reduction of road accidents.
  6. Enforcement Issues:
    • Insufficient manpower.
    • Corruption.
    • Lack funds for traffic lights, repairing roads etc.
Measures that can be taken:
Various nations have lowered their road fatalities by different steps like Vision Zero in Sweden.
Various measures that can be adopted in India are:
  1. Promote sustainable transport approach i.e. reduce number of kilometers travelled and reduce volume of vehicles on the road
  2. Stricter norms of traffic rules especially on drunk driving, over speeding, helmets and seatbelts. Strict challan system.
  3. Identifying accident hotspots and re-engineering them specially sharp curves, traffic merging points. Building alternative expressways dedicated to particular traffic.
  4. Preventing poor people from sleeping on roadsides.
  5. Highway patrol units, cameras, repair shops and medical care units at fixed distances along roads.
  6. Tax incentives to manufacturers of vehicles with more safety features. But higher toll taxes and road taxes from users.
  7. Planners of cities should rationalise the proposed roads and lanes as per the population demands.
  8. Creating awareness amongst people towards over speeding and rash driving by campaigning with slogans like Better late than never.
Some Innovative steps taken:
The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has launched two mobile applications e-challan and m-parivahan to provide a comprehensive digital solution for enforcement of traffic rules. These applications will provide access to various services and information, and enable citizens to report any traffic violation or road accident.
Who are Good Samaritans?
People who help accident victims and take them to hospital. They are usually harassed by hospital authorities and later by police.
The government has issued a notification for the protection of Good Samaritans in the wake of the Supreme Court (SC) direction on helping accident victims
  • The Supreme Court had directed all the states to follow the Centre`s guidelines that encouraged witnesses in road accidents to report to police and also help survivors with medical treatment
  • The apex court had also directed the Centre to publish its guidelines notified last year to ensure that all those who help accident victims/survivors were not harassed by the police.
What are the guidelines?
  • assuring them anonymity and protecting them from any civil or criminal liability for taking the victim to the nearest hospital
  • bystanders or passers-by, who chose to help a person in distress on the road, should be “treated respectfully and without discrimination on the grounds of gender, religion, nationality, caste or any other.”
  •  complete anonymity in case the Good Samaritan does not want to reveal his name or details, use of video-conferencing in case of any further interaction with him by the authorities and provision for the police to examine him at his residence or office or any place of his convenience. This should be done only once and in a time-bound manner.
Delhi Government’s “Good Samaritans” Policy:
  • Monetary incentive of Rs 2,000 and appreciation certificate will be given to people who help road accident victims in the national capital.
  • This can be replicated.
Related Questions:
  • In absolute numbers, more people die in road crashes in India than anywhere else in the world. Critically examine why and suggest what policy measures should India follow to reduce deaths caused by road accidents. (200 Words)

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