From Peril to Progress

A Tale of Road Accidents & Infrastructure in India

How often have you held your breath as a vehicle whizzed past at a terrifying speed? Or, perhaps, averted your eyes at the sight of an accident on the side of the road? Unfortunately, for the citizens of India, these experiences are far from rare. With 4,12,432 accidents in 2022 resulting in 1,53,972 fatalities and 3,84,448 injuries, we are forced to contemplate – why is the world's second-largest road network also a stage for such devastating narratives?

India’s road network is massive, at a staggering 63.7 lakh km, having recently outdone China. Yet, this vast web of connectivity has often been overshadowed by the grim reality of road accidents. However, hope is not lost. The recent report "Road Accidents in India – 2022" by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways offers a silver lining – road accidents in India have decreased by 8.1% compared to 2019.

No. Country Road Network
(Lakh Km.)
1. USA 68
2. India 63.7
3. China 51.9
4. Brazil 20
5. Russia 15.2
6. France 10.5
7. Canada 10.4
8. Australia   8.73
9. Mexico   8.17
10. South Africa   7.5

Source: Business Insider

A closer examination of the data, however, reveals a more complex picture. Fatalities have actually increased by 1.9% in the same timeframe. Is it not paradoxical that even as the number of accidents drops, the death toll rises? What does this tell us about the state of road safety in India?

The states bearing the brunt of this crisis are Uttar Pradesh (63,146 accidents), Maharashtra (51,008), Tamil Nadu (44,094), Andhra Pradesh (38,454), and Karnataka (37,372). The leading culprits? Over-speeding accounted for 59.7% of accidents, followed by drunk driving at 12.1%, non-compliance with traffic rules at 10.5%, rash driving at 7.9%, and lack of care and attention at 6.3%.

Yet, amidst these grim figures, there are signs of progress, a testament to the efforts taken by the government to curb this peril. From raising awareness about road safety to improving the condition of roads, imposing stricter penalties for traffic violations, and introducing new technologies for road safety, the battle against road accidents is being fought on multiple fronts.

But, is it enough? What more needs to be done to ensure the roads are not a constant threat to life and well-being? Are improved road infrastructure and stricter laws the only solution, or do we need a more profound shift in our driving culture? How can we ensure that a person stepping out of their home is guaranteed a safe journey on our roads?

Thus, as we navigate these roads that wind through our country, the questions we must ask are not just about the length and breadth of the road network but the safety they offer. Are we willing to compromise safety for speed? Can we change our mindset from 'accidents happen' to 'accidents can be prevented'?

As you drive on the roads of India, remember, every journey you undertake, every rule you follow, contributes to the narrative of road safety in India. We are all a part of the journey, and we must make it count. After all, should not the joy of the journey outweigh the fear of the destination?


More by :  P. Mohan Chandran

Top | Opinion

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