Road Safety is one of the biggest public health issues throughout the country. It remains as a major developmental issue which leads to the cause of death and injury across the world. According to the World Health Organization, WHO, at least one out of ten people killed on roads across the world is from India. The cost of road accident is borne not only by the victims and their families, but by the economy as a whole in terms of untimely deaths, injuries, disabilities and loss of potential income. Road safety in India is a significant concern due to factors like overcrowded roads, inadequate infrastructure, lax enforcement of traffic laws and a lack of awareness among road users.
There has been an alarming increase in accidental deaths on Indian roads over the years. As per the “Road Accidents in India 2021”, there were 4,12,432 unfortunate incidences of road accidents during 2021 which claimed 1,53,972 lives and caused injuries to 3,84,448. During 2021, Tamil Nadu topped the states in respect of number of accidents and Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number of accidents fatalities. 31.2 percent of the road accident took place on the National Highways including Expressways, 23.4 percent on State Highways and remaining 45.4 percent on other roads. The number of road accidents in 2021 increased by 12.6 percent on an average compared to 2020.
In 2022, there were 4,60,000 mishaps of road accident which resulted in the loss of 168491 lives. According to the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highway annual report on road accidents, the states and Union territories reported 461312 incidents in 2022, which caused injuries to 443,366 people. The year marked an increase of 11.9 percent in accidents, 9.4 percent in fatalities and 15.3 percent in injuries compared to 2021.
To create a secure environment for all road users, National Road Safety Month is observed in the state of Manipur with rest of the country from 15 January to 14th February under the theme “Sadak Suraksha Jeevan Raksha” (Be a Road Safety Hero). This month is observed with different activities and campaigns aimed at educating people about the significance of following road safety practices like wearing seatbelts, avoiding rage driving, wearing helmets and abstaining from drunk driving etc. in many offices and educational institutions.
On interacting different people with IRAP on road safety they have expressed their different opinions and views on road safety in Manipur. A resident of Kanglatombi expresses that as Koirengei road is a bumpy road, he faces many difficulties in driving his two wheeler scooter. With the bad condition of the road, it is more time consuming and more energy. With all risks he is driving to and fro every day for his office work in Imphal in this road. He appealed to the concerned authorities to find a solution to reduce the road congestion at Imphal City mainly Nagamapal road which caused many inconveniences because of road side vendors and parking and limited space for driving etc.
A teacher by profession and a denizen of Wangkhei, Imphal East opined that the road condition of Wangkhei-Kongba Road is always in bad condition, one way or the other with the presence of many potholes. The black-topping didn’t last long due to lack of quality and improper drainage. The road becomes worsen in rainy season which affect the commutators. At the same time the increasing street vendors in the part of Andro parking area, Keithel Ashanbi, create more congestion and inconveniences to the people passing through this road. With the increasing number of private tutorials, coaching centres, and shopping malls with no proper parking systems in and around Imphal city, limits the driving space of the road which may results casualties.
In this regard Mr. Wungpam Kasar, Superintendent, Traffic Control Police told IRAP that the department is working round the clock for the safety of people. They are putting all efforts to control the unwanted road mishaps. The department put extra efforts in different challenging situations for smooth movement of the traffic. Many training and awareness programs are being organized in different institutions across the state to create awareness on road safety.
Mr. Kasar expressed that the road accidents in the State has declined in the last few years and the department has a target to reduce road accidents in the coming years. He appealed people to avoid wrong parking, using mobile while driving, mixing drinking and driving etc. for their own safety. Once the people are fully aware of the traffic rules, it will help in reducing road accidents in Manipur. Mr. Kasar also appealed the parents not to encourage their children to drive vehicles without driving license and without proper driving skills.
Addressing a National Conclave on Road safety organized by CII in New Delhi in January 16, 2024, Road, Transport and Highways Minister, Nitin Gadkari said, the government has set a target to reduce accidental death by 50 percent by 2030. He said, that every hour 53 people get injured and 19 deaths take place in road accidents. Road safety is the topmost priority of the government and it has taken several decisions to improve road safety. The minister stressed the need to start a campaign on road safety to educate people and change human behavior. Moreover, the UN General Assembly has declared 2021-2030 as the Decade of Action for Road Safety with the ambitious target of preventing at least 50 percent of road traffic deaths and injuries by 2030.
Efforts to improve road safety include campaigns promoting helmet and seatbelt use, stricter enforcement of traffic regulations, infrastructure improvements and educational initiatives. Some additional aspects of road safety in India are
- Traffic Management: Improving traffic management system including traffic signals, lane markings, road signage can help reduce congestion and improve safety on Indian roads.
- Vehicle safety standards: Enforcing stricter vehicle safety standards, including mandatory seatbelts, airbags, and anti-lock braking system (ABS) can enhance vehicle safety and reduce the severity of accidents.
- Pedestrian Safety: Enhancing infrastructure for pedestrian such as sidewalks, pedestrian crossings and foot overbridges, can reduce pedestrian fatalities and injuries.
- Public Awareness Campaigns: Continued public awareness campaigns on the importance of safe driving practices, including avoiding speeding, drunk driving, and distracted driving, can help change attitudes and behaviors on the road.
- Enforcement and Penalties: Strengthening enforcement of traffic laws and imposing stricter penalties for traffic violations can serve as a deterrent and encourage compliance with road safety regulations.
- Emergency Response: Improving emergency response system, including access to ambulances and medical facilities, can reduce the time between accidents and medical attention, potentially saving lives.
- Education and training: Incorporating road safety education into school curricula and providing training for drivers, including commercial drivers, can promote safer driving habits from a young age and enhance overall road safety culture.
Addressing these multifaceted challenges requires collaboration between government agencies, law enforcement, civil society organizations and private sector to implement holistic solutions aimed at reducing road accidents and fatalities in India.