Voices Sunday, May 31, 2015 - 05:30
Arun Kumar will become just another statistic in the reports of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. The one-and-a-half-year old toddler died on Saturday after he was run over by a water tanker in Bengaluru. The son of a painter from Mehboobnagar in Andhra Pradesh, it is uncertain whether the driver of the vehicle that mowed down Arun Kumar will be punished for his death, or will even receive adequate attention by the state. At present, there is nothing to suggest that the driver was inebriated. Since 2011, Bengaluru traffic police records show that two people have been killed in road accidents every day. This year until April, 239 people have died bringing the total death toll since 2011 to 3146. Contrary to popular perception, drunk driving is responsible only for a small percentage of road accidents. An analysis of causal factors in the Road Accidents in India 2013 report, prepared by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways showed that drivers are responsible for over three quarters of accidents that occur in the country. It found that in 78% of cases, it was the driver who at fault. The report further states that 55% of drivers who fell within this category were well above the speed limit. This finding is of significance considering that the number of hit run cases increased by 10 percent from 2012, and the fatalities too increased by 7.7%, even though the highest number of accidents occurred at traffic junctions. In 2013, Karnataka had the fourth highest on the number of road accidents, accounting for nine percent of the country’s accidents. Twelve percent of these, occurred in the state capital Bengaluru. The state was fifth highest in terms of the number of fatalities. The state has also seen a rather paradoxical trend – while the number of accidents has reduced in the state, the number of fatalities had increased. Pedestrians are fifth highest category of casualties – 9.1% of road deaths are those of pedestrians. The all India average of road deaths is slightly higher than the global average of. The World Health Organization estimates that 18 out of 1,00,000 people die in road accidents ever year. India’s average is 18.9, and although several other countries have a higher average, each loss of life is tragic. How many deaths will it take before the government acts on the findings of its own report and works with people to inculcate a road usage culture that respects the fellow citizen’s life and well-being. The increase in road mishap fatalities has been accompanied by a rise in instances of road rage across India’s metros. All in all, the government – centre and state – needs to act quickly and work with various groups which are responsible for road safety.