India Grapples with Soaring Road Accident Deaths Despite Rescue Efforts

India's road accident death toll reached 168,000 in 2022, with experts urging improved medical intervention and a strategic approach to curb fatalities. The government is being called upon to prioritize road safety measures and allocate funds to reverse the trend.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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India Grapples with Soaring Road Accident Deaths Despite Rescue Efforts

India Grapples with Soaring Road Accident Deaths Despite Rescue Efforts

India's recent 17-day Himalayan tunnel rescue operation in Silkyara showcased the nation's commitment to preventing fatalities. However, this dedication has not translated into effectively addressing the country's escalating road accident death toll, which reached a staggering 168,000 in 2022, according to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

Why this matters: The alarming rate of road accident deaths in India has significant economic and social implications, affecting not only the victims and their families but also the entire nation's productivity and development. If left unchecked, this trend could lead to a substantial drain on the resources, road and hinder its growth prospects.

Experts are urging for improved medical intervention and a strategic approach to curb the loss of lives on Indian roads.

The World Bank estimates that India loses more than 5% of its GDP to road accidents and related fatalities, with the country accounting for the highest number of deaths globally. A life is lost every three minutes on Indian roads. Contrary to common belief, the quality and length of expressways and highways in India have significantly improved. The real challenge lies in the lack of a strategic approach to safeguard lives.

Experts argue that the key to reducing fatalities is improved medical intervention. "Currently, once an accident occurs, the injured are taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital, but reports suggest that half of those killed could not get appropriate medical assistance in the golden hour," noted a road safety expert. The government needs to prioritize providing timely and quality medical care to accident victims.

Some states in the US have integrated helicopter-based traffic surveillance with medical evacuation procedures, significantly improving survival chances. The Madhya Pradesh government has initiated a similar emergency service. Experts recommend that the central government define protocols and standard operating procedures for implementing such measures nationwide.

The economic cost of road accidents is borne not only by victims and their families but by the entire economy. Experts suggest that the government should allocate a fraction of its substantial road-building budget to reversing the trend of road fatalities, considering it a national imperative.

India's alarming road accident statistics paint a grim picture. In 2021, the country witnessed more than 155,000 lives lost in road crashes, the highest ever recorded. The death toll is unlikely to decrease significantly in 2022. According to the World Bank, India accounts for about 10% of all crash-related deaths globally, despite having only 1% of the world's vehicles. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data revealed that in 2021, India witnessed an average of 18 deaths per hour due to road accidents.

The recent death of prominent business leader Cyrus Mistry in a road accident has further highlighted the severity of the issue. Initiatives to reduce fatalities have been undertaken, such as the launch of a new force equipped with high-speed SUVs and interceptors by Punjab Chief Minister Mann to improve road safety. However, challenges persist, with the increasing motorization on Indian roads expected to lead to a higher death toll due to accidents.

India's commitment to halving the number of road accidents by 2030, as a signatory to the UN declaration on road safety, remains a daunting task. Addressing this crisis requires a comprehensive and strategic approach that prioritizes improved medical intervention, stronger safety standards, and increased investment in road safety measures. Only through concerted efforts can India hope to reverse the tide of road accident fatalities and ensure safer roads for its citizens.

Key Takeaways

  • India's road accident death toll reached 168,000 in 2022, with a life lost every 3 minutes.
  • Road accidents cost India over 5% of its GDP, with the country accounting for the highest number of deaths globally.
  • Improved medical intervention is key to reducing fatalities, with half of victims not receiving timely medical assistance.
  • Experts recommend allocating a fraction of the road-building budget to reversing the trend of road fatalities.
  • India aims to halve road accidents by 2030, but requires a comprehensive and strategic approach to achieve this goal.