A road safety quartet and the road ahead

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A road safety quartet and the road ahead

  • The recent report by Lancet highlights the state of road safety in India.

Key Findings:

  • Globally, about 14 lakh people die in traffic accidents annually
  • nearly five crore are injured;
  • Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC) bear the maximum burden of road fatalities and injuries, with 3-5% of GDP.
  • Accident-related deaths can be reduce by 25 to 40% through preventive interventions
  • Lack of Proper implementation of Legal measures:
  • India amended its law on motor vehicles in 2019, but its implementation is not uniform or complete.
  • Despite the National Road Safety Board constituted under the Act, with advisory powers to reform safety, its advice is still to be implemented.
  • Low emphasis on structural change such as raising engineering standards for roads, signages, signals, training for scientific accident investigation, raising policing skills and fixing responsibility on government departments for design, creation and maintenance of road infrastructure.
  • According to the Transport Ministry, more than 65% of those killed in road accidents in 2019 were in rural areas. Yet, the substantial death toll in densely populated urban centres — 32.9% — indicates that better engineering and enforcement can easily cut fatalities in the current decade.
  • This would be in consonance with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) decade of action on road safety, recognising it as a major public health issue, launched last year.
  • 17% of road traffic injury-related deaths in LMICs could be avoided if trauma care facilities improved.

Suggestive Measures:

  • Implement the recommendations of Sundar Committee (2007) and the order of Supreme Court in S. Rajasekaran vs Union of India case.
  • Measures include setting up an apex national body for road safety and fixing decentralised responsibility at the district level.
  • Provision for technically competent investigation arm
  • Implement National Road Safety Board Rules, 2021 which provide for formation of technical working groups including crash investigation and forensics.