Road accident data for 2018 published by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) is no less than a wake-up call for all stakeholders, especially people who tend to take things lightly. Data reveals that a total of 467,044 road accidents took place in the country in 2018, which is an increase of 0.46% in comparison to 2017 figures.
A total of 151,417 people lost their lives (+2.37%) whereas total people injured were 469,418, a marginal decline of -0.33%. That means 415 people died every day in road accidents or 17 deaths per hour.
Tamil Nadu had maximum accidents – In 2018, Tamil Nadu registered 63,920 road accidents, the maximum number among all states. Next in the list is Madhya Pradesh (51,397), followed by Uttar Pradesh (42,560), Karnataka (41,707), and Kerala (40,181). However, fatalities were highest in Uttar Pradesh (22,256), followed by Maharashtra (13,261) and Tamil Nadu (12,216).
Types of injuries and fatalities – Road accident data reveals that 30% cases were fatal accidents, 27% grievous injuries, 36% minor injuries and 7% non-injury accidents. To reduce the number of fatalities, MoRTH has introduced some key changes in the Motor Vehicle Amendment Act 2019. Some of these include free healthcare for injured during the golden hour and adequate legal protection for people who report accidents to police. Both these are vital if we are to reduce the number of fatalities caused by road accidents.
Over speeding caused max road accidents – In terms of traffic rule violations that led to road accidents, over speeding tops the list with 3,10,612 cases reported in 2018. This is 66.5% of the total road accident cases in 2018. However, there appears to be some progress, as road accidents caused due to over speeding have reduced by -5.1% in comparison to 2017. Over speeding resulted in 97,588 fatalities and 3,16,421 injuries in 2018.
Other causes of road accidents in 2018 include wrong side driving/lane indiscipline (5.3%), drunken driving/driving after taking drugs (2.6%), using mobile phone when driving (1.9%), and jumping red light (1%). Remaining cases (22.7%) were caused due to other reasons such as fault in vehicle, road conditions, etc.
Two-wheelers users face maximum risk – Driving a two-wheeler in India is fraught with risks, as maximum road accident cases (1,64,313; 35.2%) involved two-wheeler users. A total of 47,560 two-wheeler users were killed and 1,53,585 were injured, which is 31.4% and 32.7% of the total deaths and injuries. Road accident cases involving two-wheelers have increased as compared to 2017 figures.
Second most vulnerable group is passenger car users. Road accident cases involving car/jeep/van/taxi numbered 1,13,490 in 2018, which is 24.3% of the total. 30,811 people were killed and 1,23,517 were injured, which is 20.3% and 26.3%, respectively. Next on the list is truck/lorry (57,441; 12.3%), bus (30,746; 6.6%), auto rickshaw (27,385; 5.9%) and tempo/tractor (23,480; 5%). 33,204 road accidents (7.1%) were attributed to other reasons such as pedestrian, animal, and fixed objects such as tree, wall, etc.
Among road accidents involving two-wheelers, 43,614 fatalities were linked to not wearing helmets. This is around 29% of the total fatalities caused due to road accidents in 2018. In case of passenger vehicle users, 24,435 (16%) fatalities were linked with not using seatbelts.
Most vulnerable age-group – As per 2018 road accident data, max fatalities (48%) occurred among people in the age group of 18-35 years. This reveals that we are losing quite a substantial number of our working class every year due to road accidents. Another disturbing fact is that road accidents results in the deaths of 9,977 children (below 18 years) in 2018. That is 27 child deaths every day.
Most risky spots – Data reveals that most over speeding cases occurred on straight, open roads. This fact can be substantiated by the increased number of road accidents, deaths and injuries on such routes. Some spots were found to be the most risky such as sharp turns, potholes and steep incline. Negotiating such spots is not easy and requires considerable expertise. MoRTH report mentions that max increase in road accidents, deaths and injuries have been attributed to curved roads, bridges and straight roads.
Globally, United States had the maximum number of road accidents (22,11,439) in 2018, as per World Road Statistics report published by International Road Federation Geneva. In comparison, India had 4,80,652 road accident cases in 2018. However, fatalities in India were much higher (1,50,785), as compared to 37,461 in United States. Road accident cases in Japan (4,99,232) are close to numbers in India, but fatalities in Japan are even less at just 4,698. These comparisons clearly indicate the varying problems in India such as bad road conditions, habitual traffic violations, lax enforcement of traffic rules, and heavy corruption in issue of driving licence to drivers.
While MoRTH has done the needful by increasing fines for traffic violations, many state governments have diluted the new rules. It doesn’t appear to be a wise move, especially when seen against the backdrop of horrifying road accident data. Lawmakers, enforcers and road users need to find a common ground, where all stakeholders can cooperate to reduce the number of road accidents and fatalities. Awareness is the first step that can bring lasting changes in road transport ecosystem. You can read the full report below.