Driving in India most risky among BRIC economies

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Driving in India most risky among BRIC economies

 MUMBAI: Driving on Indian roads seems to be even riskier than on Formula-1 racing tracks. The country has emerged the worst among other BRIC (Brazil, Russian Federation, India and China) economies, when it comes to road safety.

A global study on road safety, commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO) last year, says 11 people per lakh in India died in accidents when there are only 1,800 vehicles per lakh on the road. Comparatively in Brazil, 19 people per lakh died in mishaps when there are 24,900 vehicles per lakh. According to experts, the number of deaths have to be considered in respect to vehicles plying, and not in isolation, and that pushes down India's position to the lowest rung.

Auto drivers and bikers in India are at the highest risk, constituting 32% of the deaths. The safest seem to be cyclists (5%) and those travelling on buses (8%); so using those modes of transport might just be the safest options for citizens.

According to activists, two- and three-wheeler riders flout almost every traffic rule, from jumping signals to lane-cutting and paltry fines hardly serve as a deterrent. "The biggest problem in India is all our road projects are car-centric. Be it the Eastern Freeway, Sahar elevated road or even Bandra-Worli Sea Link, the beneficiaries are almost always cars," said transport expert Ashok Datar.

"Hawkers encroach upon footpaths, forcing pedestrians to walk on roads. We do not have properly marked pedestrian crossings. The state offers neither funds nor attention to pedestrians and cyclists."

Echoing him, former DGP P S Pasricha said there's no Road Safety Act in India to cover pedestrians and cyclists. "Such a law is needed to penalize unauthorized development within 150m of national highways," Pasricha said at a responsible wheeling conclave organized by Liberty Videocon General Insurance recently.WHO has recommended speedy adoption of comprehensive laws, enforcing strong road safety laws, coupled with public awareness, making infrastructure safer, implementing crash testing standards, improving post-crash care and road safety databases.


Speaking at the conclave about measures to rectify the situation, Dr Pasricha said that liquor shops need to be removed from along national highways to prevent drunk driving. "Primary health centres need to be established on highways. Trauma care centres, with proper communication facilities, need to be set up every 50 kms on national highways. Shoulders of highways need to be strengthened. Overloading of vehicles is another serious malady,'' said Pasricha, adding that traffic education has to be made compulsory in schools right from kindergarten.

Date of Article: 
Friday, March 7, 2014
The Times of India