A recent report released by the World Health Organization (WHO), named the Global Status Report on Road Safety, revealed India to have the highest number of road deaths for the year 2021, accounting for up to 46% of the total 3.3 lakh road crash deaths. The figures translate to 13%, i.e., 13 in every 100 people killed in road accidents, keeping India at the top among 174 countries regarding road deaths.
India’s numbers are alarming, as fatalities increased from 1.3 lakh in 2010 to 1.5 lakh in 2021. It is one of the 65 countries where there has been an upward tick in fatalities. The WHO opines that even though these numbers were provided by the Indian government, the actual numbers can be as high as 2.16 lakhs, considering that a few victims might have succumbed to their injuries later after a road mishap.
The WHO mentioned that 92% of the world’s road fatalities are reported in low- and middle-income countries, and more than half of the victims are motorcyclists, cyclists, and pedestrians. Approximately 1.19 million people lose their lives every year due to road crashes. The crashes are attributed to economic losses to individuals, their families, and the country as a whole.
According to the WHO report, men are three times more prone to road crash fatalities as compared to women. Two-thirds of these fatalities occur in the age group of 18–59 years. The WHO also pointed out several risk factors associated with road deaths. It’s broadly divided into two categories, namely human factors and road conditions. These include speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol, distracted driving due to mobile phone usage, non-wearing of helmets and seatbelts, unsafe road infrastructure and vehicles, inadequate law enforcement, and post-crash care.
The WHO further added that road deaths can be prevented by the holistic involvement of the government, police, transport, health, and education. Corrective measures such as improving the safety features of the vehicles, timely medical interventions for crash victims, the implementation and enforcement of laws, designing safer road infrastructure and road safety measures, and raising public awareness are key to the success of this endeavour.
Opinions from the experts suggest that India needs to urgently act on the measures suggested by the WHO to reduce the fatalities due to road crashes and meet the target set by the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021–2030 by at least 50% by 2030.
(Input from various media sources)
(Rehash/Dr. Sushmita Ganguli)