roadd accident

            One of the greatest, and relatively easier, potential of reducing human distress which has not been tapped properly adequately relates to the potential of reducing human distress related to all accidents. Of course here our reference is not just to road accidents ( or all transport related accidents) but also to all other workplace ( occupational and domestic accidents also. The existing data tells us that the annual death and injury toll relating to  fires, falls, drowning, gas leaks and other accidents is simply too high and distressing. The threat from occupational accidents can be much, much higher than is commonly believed. It is particularly important to draw attention to this in India as g here

If someone dies young, this is considered to be the greatest tragedy in a family.  According to the latest study on this subject , “Road injury was the leading cause of death in males aged 15 to 39 years and the second leading cause in this age group for both sexes combined.” According to a widely quoted recent report published in the Lancet Public Health Journal, the number of  estimated road accident deaths in 2017 in India was 2,19,000, 71000 more than the numbers that the road transport ministry collected from all the states.

This study titled ‘Mortality due to road injuries in the states of India : The Global Burden of Disease’ (for the period 1990-2017) has stated that the number of deaths due to road accidents increased by 58.7% during this period in India, as compared to only 8.1% at world level. This aspect of a much higher rise of accidents is really terrible, as the means of reducing accidents significantly are clearly available. The death rate for motorcyclists in India (according to this study) was 66% higher than the world average, while that for cyclists was 33% higher. The number of pedestrians who died was 76,229, the number of motor-cyclists was 57,802 and that of cyclists was 15324. This is the data based on the recent Lancet study. The official death toll for pedestrians was only 20,457 while that for cyclists was 3599. The realization of death toll being so high is really very sad, as so much expertise has been available in the country for reducing accidents and the severity of injuries.

We should not forget the great harm done by injuries, as the real burden of injuries has been underestimated in India to an even greater extent.In the UK during the year July 2012-June 2013, 1730 people were killed in road accidents. However the number of people injured in road accidents during the same period was as high as 1,85,540. In other words injuries caused by road accidents in this country are more than one hundred times the fatalities. Now let’s look at the official data provided by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)  which in turn is based on road accident data sent by police stations all over the country. This data tells us that as many as 141526 persons died and 477731 were injured in road traffic accidents in India in 2014. In other words the number of injuries related to road accidents was counted in India at just three times higher than deaths, compared to 100 times for the UK..

The Status Report on Road Safety in India (2015) prepared by the Transportation Research and Injury Prevention Program of the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi has also quoted several studies which indicate that the extent of under-reporting is likely to be very high in the case of road accident injuries. Trying to work out the most likely figures on the basis of the existing studies this IIT report estimates that for every fatality there are likely to be 15 serious injuries and 50 minor injuries related to road traffic accidents. Thus for 219,000 deaths there are likely to be 142 lakh injuries in a year (1 million=10 lakh),compared to the less than 5 lakh reported by official data.

Similarly the prospects of reducing deaths and injuries relating to various workplace, domestic and other accidents in India, particularly those relating to large gatherings and festivals, are huge in India. It is very important to give this the form of a nationwide campaign of people which gets adequate support from the government at all levels. This is particularly important to remember at a time when one of our foremost experts on reducing accidents Prof. Dinesh Mohan has just passed away and a safety week is being observed.

Bharat Dogra is a journalist and author. His recent books include Protecting Earth for Children and  Planet in Peril.


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