There is no end as far as road accidents are concerned. Many precious lives continue to be lost while many people suffer disability, some for lifetime. The consequences of a tragedy often endure long after the mishap is over. Road accidents occur due to multiple causes such as over-speeding, use of Mobile phone, drunken driving including consumption of alcohol, drug or overloaded vehicle, vehicular condition, poor light condition, jumping red light, overtaking, neglect of civic bodies, weather condition, fault of driver, fault of pedestrian, driving on wrong side, defect in road condition, defect in condition of motor vehicle, automobile design, etc.
As per the data made available in the parliament recently, the government said 3564 accidents in 2020, across India occurred due to potholed roads alone. Even the numbers are lesser than such accidents in last three years with 4775 reported in 2019 and 4869 in 2018; this is substantial given the fact that there were restrictions on account of lockdown due to covid-19 pandemic and as such restricted vehicular movement also.
As per figures available, 3,19,028 accidents happened due to over-speeding, 12,256 were caused due to drunken driving/consumption of alcohol & drugs, 24,431 were as a consequence of Driving on wrong side of lane/ indiscipline while 10,522 were result of mobile phone use, accounting for 2.3% of the total accidents.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, in 2019, at least 4,37,396 road accidents were recorded in India, resulting in the death of 1,54,732 persons and injuries to another 4,39,262 persons. Jammu and Kashmir has gained the notoriety of being amongst the states or UTs having the highest percentage of unnatural deaths including due to accidents in the country. 1009 people died in 5839 road accidents in Jammu and Kashmir.
According to a study by the World Bank on road accidents, every death in India caused by a road accident leads to the depletion of nearly seven months’ income in the households of poor families and pushes the victims’ kin into a vicious cycle of poverty and debt. The low-income rural households, predictably, are hit the hardest.
There is a need to lay down engineering standards and complaints procedures that will help citizens hold the concerned to account. There is also need for education, civil society cooperation and professional policing besides muscular enforcement of law through tougher penalties for seat belts, drunken driving, smartphone use and other violations. Otherwise the carnage will only increase.