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India’s poor road safety record puts to shame her technological strides
New Delhi: This year till October, there have been at least 354 reported deaths due to road mishaps in Delhi-NCR region. In isolation, the numbers may sound high, but more chilling is the fact that the city and its surroundings see as many as 1,000- 1,200 deaths on an average every year due to road accidents. It goes without saying that most road accidents are preventable and hundreds of lives have been lost where actually they could have been saved had there been better accident relief mechanisms in place. But the first priority is to prevent accidents. Why is India the accident capital of the world? At least one out of 10 people killed on roads across the world is from India, according to the World Health Organisation. Several reasons are attributed to the high incidence of road accidents in India— lack of proper road infrastructure like proper curvature, gradient, slopes, signage etc. being some of them. However, surprisingly 65 per cent of accidents have been found to be taking place on straight roads; potholed and steep roads accounting for just 15 per cent. Data for 2020 shows 72 per cent accidents and 67 per cent of fatalities took place under sunny/clear weather.
Therefore, more than blaming our road conditions, which are rather improving by the day, it is our road manners and driving sensibilities that purportedly need to be addressed on priority. Unauthorised parking, often on wrong side of the road, causes a large number of accidents. So does speeding, unplanned overtaking maneuvers, drunk driving and odd habits like not wearing seat belt while on the move or not turning on the indicators when required or jumping red light. These are chronic and widespread habits which, unless checked through education and tough penalties, will continue to cause accidents and fatalities.