Sunday, November 9, 2008

Blood Roads!!

India's vehicular fatalities can be contained, if there is a will!

Thanks to India’s roads, teeming with all kinds of vehicles (manual, semi-automated to hi tech!), there has not been a single day when newspapers have gone without reporting on road fatalities. It is most unfortunate that we as a nation top the global rankings when it comes to road fatalities. To start with the capital of India; conservative estimates show that Delhi alone experiences around six accidents per day, which sums up to 2000 deaths per year!! On a pan-India basis, more than 1.3 lakh persons were reportedly killed in 2007 on roads, and mind you, these are official estimates based on ones that are reported! And the most worrisome fact is that the road accidents scenario in India is getting worse by the day – in the last two years, the number of road accidents has increased by leaps and bounds. In fact, the issue takes a new dimension when one delves into the World Bank figure, which states that road accidents cost India about 3 per cent of its GDP annually (about $30 billion). This estimation – which is of a mammoth proportion – should be more than enough to put any responsible administrative machinery into a state of alert! But nothing seems to move us, which is evident from the record we are creating in terms of fatalities on our roads.

No wonder there are multiple reasons for such increasing rate of fatalities, but the most critical of them all is the lack of a (and in most cases, almost no) comprehensive legal framework. In the absence of that, citizens and general administration at large have been completely insensitive and callously casual towards such fatalities. In fact, the state driving licence issuance is indicative of our legal framework. It is no secret that it just takes a few thousand bucks for one to get a driving license, and that too, without any medical and written test. Even sometimes one need not be present and someone else can pick up your license for you. And all such nonchalance has led to a similar outlook towards road accidents and resulted in spilling perpetual blood on the roads.

It is not that this cannot be set right. It is all about creating the right kind of environment. I’ve seen it for myself that the very same fellow Indians do not dare to mess around with traffic rules in foreign lands. It is interesting to observe that in a place like Dubai, or for that matter in London, almost every other taxi driver is an Indian, but then there are hardly any accidents reported from these regions. For that matter in Dubai, the rules are very simple: you break traffic rules thrice, your licence is forfeited, forever. And mind you, this is just on account of breaking traffic rules (which could be as small as parking at a no parking zone); then imagine what happens if one ends up causing a fatal accident!!

So, to make our roads blood free, we only need to create an environment, which is uniform for every Indian, irrespective of the colours he/she wears. And going by the numbers, it is needless to state that it has become a national imperative now. Even now if we fail to do this, and seeing the number of vehicles that we are adding to our roads (another two million vehicles in the next couple of years – this figure is not taking Nano into account), Indian roads are going to be on a killing binge!!


1 comment:

  1. We should segregate pedestrian, slow & fast moving traffic.