Reducing Fatalities by 50% by 2020 – Where are we Heading?

Are our roads safe? Are we doing enough to make our roads safe? As a signatoryto Brasilia Declaration (Nov 2015), India is committed to reduce the number of road accidents and fatalities by 50% by 2020. But the big question is
have we been able to or are we proceeding towards that vision? Well the answer is a BIG NO. Road traffic crash related deaths and injuries in India have become a very big concern for our country which registers for more than 10 per cent of the global road crash fatalities. As per the recent report released by Ministry of Road Transport and
Highways, a total of 480,652 road accidents took place in India in 2016, which resulted in the loss of 150,785 human lives and left 494,625 injured. That means the country has around 55 road accidents every hour killing 17 people.

These fatalities have prompted a need for the amendment of the Motor Vehicle Act 1988. We and our partner organizations have been sensitizing the policymakers on the same which finally resulted in the drafting of the Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill 2017 which been passed by the Lok Sabha and is soon going to be introduced in the Rajya Sabha.

Risk Factors

The risk factors of speeding and drunken driving are not new and if you are living in a city like Delhi, you must have encountered these factors in your daily life. 73,896 people ie 49% people have been killed due to overspeeding in 2016 while 6,131 have been killed while driving under the influence of alcohol. Higher the speed, greater the risk of a severe crash and increases likelihood of serious injury or death specially for pedestrians, cyclists, and two-wheelers riders. On the other handimpairment due to alcohol consumption leads to poor
judgment, increased reaction time, lowered vigilance and decreased ability to see well.

Two Wheeler Deaths

India registers maximum road deaths among two-wheeler drivers and pillion riders. Maximum deaths in two-wheeler category are because of head injuries and not wearing helmet.In 2016, 52,500 (34.8%) fatalities were among two- wheeler drivers/riders.Not wearing helmet while driving or riding on a motorized two wheeler increases risk of head injury, severity and death while wearing a good-quality helmet can reduce risk of death from a road crash by 40% and severe injury by over 70%.

Seat Belt and Child Restraint System

Seat Belt and Child Restraint System are secondary safety measures but they are crucial ones nonetheless. They reduce risk of hitting interior of car or other passengers.In 2016, non-wearing of seat-belt caused 5638 deaths among vehicle drivers & passengers in India.

Mandatory use of child restraints (infant seat or child seat) can reduce child deaths by 54–80% in event of a crash.

But we will not be able to achieve what we have committed in Brasilia Declaration if these key issues are not addressed and this can only be possible if the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill is passed. The passage of the Bill is key to improve road safety and help India meet its target of reducing by half the
burden of road injuries and fatalities by 2020.

To fulfil India’s pledge to the UN, Consumer Voice is organising its Annual Road Safety Week in several cities in India along with the state partners from February 1-7, 2018 on the theme of “5 Days 5 Pledges- for Road Safety” from 1 to 7 February.Through our events and workshops we will be focusing on Speed, Drunk Driving,Helmet, Seat belts and Child restraints and hope to spread the message of road safety to one and all.

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