Contrary to popular perception about frequent car accidents causing maximum casualty, India is, however, witnessing a significant rise in the number of two-wheeler riders and pedestrians losing their lives on road with nearly 75,000 bikers dying in 2022 and another 32,825 pedestrians getting killed during the year.
The recently released data points towards the need to find solutions to address the safety concerns of such vulnerable road users.
According to the government data, two-wheelers were responsible for nearly one-fourth of the total fatalities in crashes.
The recent report on road accidents, which collated data from state governments, has revealed that nearly the two-wheeler occupants not only face the brunt of crashes, but the drivers of these vehicles also were responsible for the killing of 28 per cent of the pedestrians during last year.
As per the data, 9,316 pedestrians died in accidents caused by these vehicles contrary to the popular perception of cars causing more deaths and leaving pedestrians injured.
Interestingly, motorised two-wheelers were identified to be responsible for 27,615 deaths of bikers last year. In total, 47,171 fatalities were attributed to the fault of two-wheeler drivers, the government report said.
The state-wise data shows that Tamil Nadu reported the maximum number of two-wheeler occupant deaths at 11,140 last year, followed by Maharashtra (7,733) and Uttar Pradesh (6,959). In the case of pedestrian death, Tamil Nadu recorded a maximum of 4,427 fatalities, followed by Bihar (3,345) and West Bengal (2,938).
As per the report, at least 1.25 lakh pedestrians and two-wheeler occupants received grievous injuries.
While two-wheelers have become the cheapest mode of private transport, these hardly have any external protection for occupants in case of a crash.
Experts say that the only option to curb crashes involving two-wheelers is to segregate them from other traffic.
Speeding claimed seven out of every 10 persons killed on Indian roads in 2022 as the total road deaths in the country stood at an all time high of 1.68 lakh and left another 4.43 lakh with injuries, including 1.95 lakh who were grievously injured.
The data released by the road transport ministry on Tuesday also shows the rampant violation of traffic rules as nearly 30 per cent of persons killed were not wearing helmets at the time of crashes and another 10 per cent had not put on their seatbelts despite these being made mandatory.
A comparative analysis of road crashes and deaths of the past five years shows that the share of speeding as the main cause of road deaths has increased from 64 per cent in 2018 to 71 per cent in 2022, indicating the need to have enforcement of speed violations, particularly when India is building bigger and wider roads.
This is also evident from the government that nearly 78 per cent of the fatalities on wider National Highways (35,488) were on account of speeding.
The details provided in the “Road Accidents in India” report released by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways corroborate this trend.
It shows that more than 60 per cent of all road fatalities occurred on national and state highways, which have barely 5 per cent of the country’s total road deaths.
The report also reveals how there has been more violation of traffic rules, from drunk driving to jumping traffic lights and the use of mobile phones while driving.
The fatalities due to jumping the traffic lights increased from 679 in 2021 to 1,462 during last year.
Highlighting the violation of traffic rules, the report mentions that 50,029 two-wheeler riders lost their lives, which is around 67 per cent of all the two-wheeler occupants killed in crashes last year, due to not wearing helmets. While 35,692 of the deceased were drivers another 14,337 were pillion riders.
The data also shows that more than one lakh two-wheeler riders were left injured in crashes. Health and road safety experts have often termed helmets as the “vaccine for head injuries”.
In the case of non-compliance of seat belt wearing by car occupants, the data show that 16,715 persons were killed in crashes due to not wearing seat belts, and another 42,303 were left injured in crashes.
The report shows that almost half of the car occupants killed were drivers. The data provided by the state governments to the centre doesn’t give details of how many of the passengers killed were backseat occupants.
The report has also highlighted how despite claims of both the Central and state governments of improving the road conditions and complying with norms at under-construction sites, there has been a 25 per cent spike in pothole-related deaths — from 1,481 fatalities in 2021 to 1,856 during last year — and even the number of persons killed during ongoing road works and at under-construction sites have increased to 4,054.
As per the report, there has been an increase in the number of fatalities across all types of collisions with a maximum spike in crashes of vehicles with stationary or parked ones.
In 2022, 6,012 persons were killed in such crashes compared to 4,925 during the previous year.
Similarly, the number of persons who died in hit and run cases increased to 30,486 from 25,938 in 2021 and deaths due to vehicles hit from back or tail getting also went up to 32,097 in 2022 from 28,712 in the previous year.
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