Indian Road Accidents: At least 410 people die every day
With the world's most unsafe roads and most people defying traffic rules, driving in India has become dangerous. Government data shows at least 410 people lost lives every day and nearly 1.5 lakh people died in road accidents last year compared to 400 daily fatalities and 1.46 lakh total deaths in 2015. However, the rate of rising in fatality reportedly declined in 2016.
Centre and Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety
The number of deaths due to road accidents has continuously been on the rise; Indian roads account for the highest fatalities in the world. The current data is based on the information shared by all the states and union territories - barring Mizoram, Chandigarh, Daman & Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli - with the Centre and the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety.
Decline and rise in road fatalities
Out of all the states and UTs, only nine, including Delhi, recorded a decline in road accident deaths. However, six states - Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal - have recorded a significant rise, pushing the total to 1.5 lakh, an all-time high since 1970. Since 1970, road fatalities have consistently risen - except in 2012 and 2013.
Numbers in Bihar
Surprisingly, Bihar reported the highest decline in fatalities in 2016, showing the maximum improvement among other states. 541 fewer deaths were recorded in 2016 compared to 2015. Liquor prohibition in the state seems to have made roads much safer as drunk-driving deaths decreased by 60%.
Road transport sector and safety in India
India's road transport sector contributes to 4.8% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, India also loses 1-3% of the GDP due to road accidents, according to a 2007 report. Nearly 1.5 million people died in road accidents over the past decade; still, there is no comprehensive road safety law in India. Road Transport and Safety Bill, proposed in 2014, has now been reportedly shelved.
What are the main reasons behind road accidents?
Inadequate laws, poor enforcement and a perception that "road accidents are inevitable" are cited as primary reasons behind fatalities. Over-speeding and careless or dangerous driving reportedly claim the maximum number of deaths in road accidents. However, drunken driving remains one of the leading causes. Poorly constructed roads, poor weather, vehicles' mechanical defects are also some of the other reasons.
The entire ecosystem
President of the International Road Federation, KK Kapila, stated: "The entire ecosystem of safe roads, safe users, safe vehicles, enforceable law and fear of being caught for every single violation of traffic law has to be in place."