NEW DELHI: Speeding was responsible for over 66% of road accidents in 2018 and over 5% were caused by drunk driving, according to the provisional accident data which Union road transport minister Nitin Gadkari shared while replying to a question on high number of fatalities on Indian roads on Monday.
He told Rajya Sabha the number of lives lost in accident on national highways (NHs) during last year was 54,046 as compared to 53,181 in 2017.
Gadkari also admitted that there were multiple reasons behind the rising number of road fatalities including the traffic rule violations by vehicle users and road engineering defects just hours before he moved the Motor Vehicle Amendments in the Lok Sabha seeking support of all members to pass it. Sources said that the total road deaths in 2018 is estimated to be close to 1.5 lakh, which is a matter of great concern.
“I have been very frank in accepting that I could not deliver to reduce the road fatalities in past five years…please understand that the Rs 100 fine for traffic offences fixed decades back should be in thousands. Our main focus is to reduce road deaths and bring reforms in the transport sector to make it more transparent. We want to bring IT-based testing system for granting driving licences and fitness certificate for vehicles,” Gadkari said.
Several organisations working for road safety have been campaigning for the passage of the bill claiming that the new law will put some checks on the blood-letting on Indian roads which see 400 perish every day.
“These are not just numbers. In some cases, people’s hopes are dashed and in other cases families lose their bread earners. The government agencies only see them as numbers,” said Manoj Wadhwa whose four-year-old son, Pavitra was killed in a road accident in Faridabad five years back due to a pothole.
In fact, over 50% road deaths in recent years have been in the age group of 14-35—those in the prime of their productive age.
A report by Asian Development Bank in 2012 had for the first time revealed the socio-economic impact of road accidents in Asia Pacific Region including India. It had found that seven out of 10 victims’ families suffer decreased income, two-thirds of victims’ families take loans to cover income loss and many victims’ families are driven into poverty or debt.
Date: November 12, 2019