NEW DELHI: Wrong side driving claimed at least 24 lives daily on Indian roads during 2018 and another 4,800 persons died in accidents caused due to collision with other parked vehicles. While the number of people killed in accidents caused due to driving against the flow of traffic reduced by nearly 9% from 2017, fatalities due to accidents involving parked vehicles nearly doubled last year as compared to those in 2017, according to the latest road accidents report.
Traffic safety experts said these two trends have exposed the failure of enforcement agencies across all roads, including on National Highways, where one can spot people violating the traffic norms and endangering others. The report released by the road transport ministry on Friday also revealed an alarming rise in the number of all road fatalities in 2018, with 3,500 more people losing their lives on roads than in 2017, taking the total toll to over 1.5 lakh.
According to the report, nearly one-fourth of the fatalities caused due to wrong-side driving were reported from UP where 2,253 people were killed in such accidents. Bihar and Punjab also reported higher number of such accidents and fatalities. “First of all, the road-owning agencies don’t build service roads and the designs are also faulty. So, you see rampant violation of this norm. Poor enforcement makes the conditions more deadly,” said Harman Singh Sidhu, who moved courts against liquor shops along NHs.
Considering that wrong-side driving can cause fatal accidents, the government has brought this offence under the “dangerous driving” category and the penalty for such violation has been increased significantly in the amended Motor Vehicle Act. The Centre has notified minimum fine of Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000 and up to six months’ jail for first offence and has increased the fine for repeat offence to up to Rs 10,000 and jail term of six to 12 months.
In the case of collision with parked vehicles resulting in deaths, UP reported a maximum of 1,299 fatalities in 2018 followed by Gujarat where 478 people died in such accidents.
“We hardly have any highway policing system and patrolling is also insignificant on our roads. In majority cases, drivers simply leave the vehicles parked on the middle of the road without placing the warning signage for other vehicles. Ill-trained drivers are not concerned with the safety of other road users. Every year, the high number of fatal accidents are reported across the country during winter season and many of them are due to parked or vehicles which have broken down on main carriageways,” said Hardeep Singh, president of Arrive Safe, a not-for-profit organisation working for road safety.
Date: November 18, 2019