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India holds the dubious distinction of being ranked on top of the table in the number of road accident deaths across the 199 countries and accounts for almost 11% of the accident related deaths in the World.

As per the data on  ‘Road Accidents in India 2021’ released by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways Transport Research Wing New Delhi , there were 4,12,432 unfortunate incidents of road accidents during 2021 which claimed 1,53,972 lives and caused injuries to 3,84,448 persons.

Shockingly, the worst affected age group in Road accidents is 18-60 years, which accounts for about 84 percent of total accidental deaths.

It is reported that every year, approximately 1.5 lakh people die on Indian roads due to accidents, which converts into 1130 accidents and 422 deaths every day or 47 accidents and 18 deaths every hour!

These are very disturbing numbers for a country which has drawn an ambitious plan to provide a world class National Highway network to meet the Nation’s requirements by executing a large number of mega projects for an uninterrupted and safe flow of traffic.

The NHAI did succeed in introducing FAST TAG technology at the toll booths which has substantially reduced the waiting time and the flow of traffic has been uninterrupted with a significant saving on time, fuel and cash dispensation. They also executed some iconic projects like 6-lane Eastern Peripheral Expressway NE-II, Two-laning of Chenani-Nashri tunnel, improvement in NH connectivity to Char Dham etc., to cite a few. However, despite all these achievements the safety on these roads is a matter of serious concern in our country.

National Highways falling under the administrative control of NHAI account for 66 percent of road accident related deaths followed by National Highways falling under State PWD which account for 25 percent of Road Accident deaths. The remaining 9 percent Road Accident deaths are accounted for by National Highways under other Departments.

One of the major causes of the accidents is attributed to crashing on Road Dividers by the vehicles trying to overtake one another. Many times, the Road Dividers emerge from “Nowhere”  without any properly marked out signs/warnings, reflectors etc.  resulting in the overtaking vehicle crashing on to  the divider with full speed leading to fatal accidents and severe damage to the vehicles.

The death of former Tata Group Chairman Cyrus Mistry on September 4 in a road accident on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad national highway was attributed to over speeding and crashing onto a road divider near Palghar District. Mr. Mistry was reportedly sitting on the rear seat without wearing a seat belt.

This accident has paved the way for stricter enforcement of wearing seat belts by the passengers sitting in the rear seats. Mr. Nitin Gadkari minister for Road Transport and Highways has announced that violators of seat belt rule would be fined as per the provisions of the Motor Vehicle act. The Karnataka Government has immediately notified that it would impose a fine of Rs.1000 under the same provisions if the passengers sitting on the rear seats are found not wearing the seat belts.

Mr. Rishabh Pant met with a near fatal road accident on 30.12.2022 on the Delhi-Roorkee highway when his car hit a Road divider and burst into flames. He missed death by a whisker.

Apart from showcasing our ability to construct super express highways and execute world class mega projects, we should give topmost priority to road safety and work for erasing the dubious distinction of the world topper in road accident deaths. 

It is to be noted that India is also a signatory to global summits on Road Safety in Brazil, Stockholm (Sweden) and to the recently held HLM ( High Level Meeting) at UNGA.

Huge sign boards, reflectors, glow signs, warning signals and laying of multiple speed breakers at least a few kilometers before the approaching Road dividers should be installed on all the National Highways and State Highways to give a warning to the drivers not to overtake close to the Road dividers. The multiple speed breakers would alert the drivers and wake them up in case they were snoozing.

Let us make the road safety slogan  “SAFETY FIRST, SPEED NEXT” a national campaign and save lacs of accidental deaths every year.

These pieces are being published as they have been received – they have not been edited/fact-checked by ThePrint.