Every year the lives of approximately 1.3 million people are cut short as a result of a road traffic crash. Between 20 and 50 million more people suffer non-fatal injuries, with many incurring a disability as a result of their injury. Road traffic injuries cause considerable economic losses to individuals, their families, and to nations as a whole. These losses arise from the cost of treatment as well as lost productivity for those killed or disabled by their injuries, and for family members who need to take time off work or school to care for the injured. Road traffic crashes cost most countries 3% of their gross domestic product. With numerous forms of transport on the road, drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists, passengers, and pedestrians can end up being involved in road accidents.
Different vehicles and circumstances can cause a number of accident types. For instance, truck accidents have increased by 52% in the United States since 2009 and 74% of all passenger fatalities in road accidents involved large trucks. Due to their sheer size, trucks can cause devastating injuries and considerable property damage. Common truck accidents include jackknifing, tire blowouts, rollovers, rear-ending, and losing loads due to improperly loaded freight. Other common types of accidents on the road include: Car accidents; Motorcycle accidents; Coach accidents; Accidents involving cyclists; Accidents involving pedestrians; Accidents involving uninsured drivers; Accidents that happen because of things like fallen trees, flying debris, and animals crossing the road and Hit and run accidents.
The number of people killed in road accidents in India saw a spike in 2021 after a 13 per cent drop in 2020. The number of people killed in road accidents in 2021 was the highest in the past five years. Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu reported the highest number of people losing their lives in road accidents in 2021.In 2021, 153,972 people lost their lives in road accidents in the country. In pandemic-hit 2020, the number of people killed in road accidents stood at 131,714, which was lower than the 151,113, 151,417, and 147,913 deaths in 2019, 2018, and 2017, respectively, Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, told Rajya Sabha in a reply. In 2021, Uttar Pradesh reported the highest number of road accident deaths at 21,227, followed by Tamil Nadu (15,384), Maharashtra (13,528), Madhya Pradesh (12,057), Karnataka (10,038), Andhra Pradesh (8,186), Bihar (7,660), Telangana (7,557), Gujarat (7,452), and West Bengal (5,800).
In Manipur too on Wednesday the 21st December 2022 the School bus (MN01/2119) was carrying students and staff of Yairipok Thambalnu Higher Secondary School and headed to Khoupum for an annual excursion, ended in a tragedy after the bus carrying school students met with an accident at Longsai Part-3 (Tubung) under Khoupum Police Station in Noney district, leaving seven dead, including five students a teacher and a warden. Around 35 are said to be injured. The tragic incident, which occurred around 11.10 am, also claimed the lives of a teacher and a warden. Not only this, in recent past reports of death tolls were seen in local media due to road accidents in various parts of Manipur.
Tamil Nadu reported 16,869 accidents on national highways in 2021. The number of pedestrians killed in road accidents during the year stood at 3,647, the highest during 2018–2021. Though Uttar Pradesh continued to report the highest number of road accident deaths among the States, Tamil Nadu remained in the second or third position during 2017–2021. “Over-speeding is the biggest factor causing the maximum number of accidents and deaths in the State,” according to findings. While industry representatives reckon that increased travel in the post- Covid era could have led to a higher number of accidents and deaths, FIR data received from various States/UTs pointed out that road fatalities occurred due to multiple causes such as over speeding, use of mobile phone, drunken driving/consumption of alcohol and drug, driving on wrong side/ lane indiscipline, jumping red light, non-use of safety devices, vehicular condition, weather, road condition, etc.
In a recent interaction, RC Bhargava, Chairman of Maruti Suzuki India, pointed out that poor vehicle fitness regimes and driving errors are the major causes of accidents. A lot of accidents happen on the road due to the failure of some systems in the vehicles, and there is no law or regulation to ensure vehicles on the road are compliant with safety features. Also, there is no strong focus on driver training and the licensing process like in other countries. Meanwhile, the Union Road Transport and Highways Ministry has taken several initiatives to reduce road accidents. It has implemented an electronic Detailed Accident Report (e-DAR) application, a central repository for reporting, management, and analysis of road accident data, to undertake timely interventions for improving road safety across the country. The Ministry has sanctioned a Centre of Excellence for Road Safety at IIT-Madras with the basic aim of creating an intelligent and safe transportation system, planning data-driven road safety initiatives, conducting human factor research in road safety, and sharing knowledge with the stakeholders.
Whether it’s an accident involving a truck, a car or a motorcycle, there are various causes that could cause the road accident. Here are some of the most common causes:-
Speeding: Even though there have been countless awareness campaigns about speeding for decades, speeding is still one of the most common causes of road accidents. Many drivers ignore speed limits or fail to slow down in bad weather conditions, putting both themselves and others at risk. For instance, the faster you drive, the shorter your reaction time is. Therefore, you’re more likely to cause an accident.
Reckless Driving: Reckless driving isn’t just about speeding. If you change lanes too quickly or erratically, drive too closely to another vehicle, or fail to be considerate to other drivers, your reckless behavior could result in an accident.
Distraction: Drivers shouldn’t get easily distracted, but many drivers continue to eat or use their phones while driving. That not only means they’re distracted and therefore more likely to cause an accident. It also means they won’t be driving as well because they’ll only be using one hand. And anything that involves taking your eyes off the road, even for a moment, puts you at more risk of being involved in a road accident.
Driving While Drowsy: Many road accidents happen because drivers are too tired. You need to be alert and have your eyes on the road at all times to ensure your safety and others.
When people drive for long hours without rest, drive while taking prescription medication that states they shouldn’t drive, or are generally fatigued from not getting enough sleep, road accidents are more likely to happen.
No one can prevent accidents from happening when they’re the fault of someone or something else. However, you can ensure you are a careful and responsible driver to avoid causing an accident. But of course, every driver should be doing that. To help remedy the aftermath of an accident, you first need to seek medical treatment as soon as you can. Even if you don’t appear to have any serious injuries, you could have internal injuries or a concussion, so it’s important to see a doctor. You then need to contact your insurance company. You should also contact an accident lawyer to help you gain compensation. For example, if a truck hits your car and the accident is not your fault, a truck accident lawyer can help you to take legal action to gain damages for covering medical expenses, loss of earnings, and property damage. You could gain compensation for pain and suffering, too.
Road accidents cannot be stopped despite providing the best possible roads and intersections; however there are ways to reduce the impact of road accidents on road-users and the vehicles plying on the road. By suitable traffic engineering and management the accident rate can be reduced with scarce resources. For this reason systematic study of traffic accidents are required to be carried out. Proper investigation of the cause of accidents will help to propose preventive measures in terms of design and control. The unconditional remedy of reducing this problem is to stop the excessive flow of population. The excessive population is the main cause of making our country crippled. Road accidents should be declared as a national disaster and prompt and effective actions are much needed to mitigate this problem. The more the delay to take actions, the more death tolls to be brought.
(The view expressed are personal)