Apart from the road accidents itself that happen, the most tragic part of the mishap lies in the fact that many of those lives could have been saved, had the victims reached the hospital in time.
As per the data tabled in the Parliament on Friday, 5.82 lakh people lost their lives in 17 lakh road accidents that happened in a four-year period up to 2020. Although the number of road accidents and the resultant deaths decreased significantly from 2018 to 2020. While there were 4.5 lakh road accidents (1.5 lakh deaths) in 2019, comparatively there were 3.5 lakh accidents (1.3 lakh deaths) deaths in 2020.
A total of 52,448 road accidents occurred in the hit and run category in 2020. These numbers were still down from 57,987 such cases in the year 2019 and 69,822 in 2018. Tamil Nadu registered the highest number of road accidents (45,484) in 2020, while Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of deaths (19,149) due to such accidents in the same period.
WHO on road accidents
Just as with several other socio-economic phenomena, road accidents too hit the rich and poor in an unequal manner. As per statistics provided by World Health Organisation, approximately 1.3 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes. Unfortunately, more than half of road traffic deaths are among vulnerable road users: pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
About 93% of the world's fatalities on the roads occur in low and middle income countries. The data further days that road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5-29 years.
Now what? The measures and safety drives
Any drive towards road safety needs to start by correcting the general poor attitude of people when it comes to safety. Effective public awareness, education and awareness drives is a powerful but often undermined tool in the hands of the administration. A multi-pronged strategy to address the issue road safety then needs to move to the engineering aspect of roads safety (which includes both roads and the vehicles). Roads built to minimise mishaps and vehicles that conform to road safety regulations need to be enforced strictly.
Emergency care remains one of the areas in need to immediate attention. As per a 2021 report by the World Bank, India has only 1 per cent of the world's vehicle but it accounts for 11% of the global deaths in road accidents, the highest in the world. Advanced Traffic Management Systems (ATMS), the Parliament was informed, is envisaged in high traffic density corridors. ATMS, the highway traffic management system, can ensure round the clock safety by providing real time and precise information about road conditions, traffic scenarios, incidents and weather conditions on the highway.
ReadyAssist: What India needs to focus on
Bengaluru's Vimal Singh lost his dear friend in a road accident. In an endeavour that other road accident victims don't meet the same fate, Singh launched a 24x7 emergency aid ReadyAssist for road accident victims. The service aspires to airlift people during an accident situation within 15 minutes of them happening anywhere in India.
Launched in July, ReadyAssist is present in over 700 districts across India. What is a start-up endeavour should ideally be a pan India service with easy accessibility, as the numbers of both vehicles and accidents grow each year.