Deadly roads in India
Mains Paper: 3 | Infrastructure
Prelims level: K.S. Radhakrishnan Committee
Mains level: Road conditions in India
- At the large number of people who die every year and the thousands who are crippled in accidents.
- The remedies it highlights are weak, incremental and unlikely to bring about a transformation.
Steps are taken by government
- The Supreme Court is seized of the issue and has been issuing periodic directions in a public interest petition with the assistance of the Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan Committee constituted by the Centre.
- The Centre and the States will work to improve safety as a joint responsibility, although enforcement of rules is a State issue.
- That nothing much has changed is reflected by the death of 1,47,913 people in accidents in 2017.
- To claim a 1.9% reduction over the previous year is statistically insignificant, more so when the data on the rate of people who die per 100 accidents show no decline.
- The finding that green commuters cyclists/pedestrians now face greater danger on India’s roads, with a rise in fatalities for these categories of users of 37% and 29% over 2016, respectively.
Important highlights of the road safety data
- Road safety data is a contested area in India.
- The figures of death and injury from accidents are viewed as an underestimate by scholars.
- The Transportation Research and Injury Prevention Programme at IIT Delhi estimates that cumulatively, road traffic injuries recorded by the police are underestimated by a factor of 20, and those that need hospitalisation by a factor of four.
- The number of people who suffered injuries in 2017 far exceeds the 4,70,975 reported by the Ministry.
- It is welcome that greater attention is being paid to the design and safety standards of vehicles, but such professionalism should extend to public infrastructure.
- The design of roads, their quality and maintenance, and the safety of public transport, among others.
- The Centre has watered down the national bus body standards code in spite of a commitment given to the Supreme Court, by requiring only self-certification by the builders.
- Relaxing this long-delayed safety feature endangers thousands of passengers.
- There is little chance of the NDA government, now in the last year of its tenure, making a paradigm shift.
- Valuable time has been lost in creating institutions for road safety with a legal mandate, starting with an effective national agency.
- The Road Safety Councils at the all-India and State levels have simply not been able to change the dismal record.
- The police forces lack the training and motivation for professional enforcement. The urgent need is to fix accountability in government.
UPSC Prelims Questions:
Q.1) Which among the following road categories has the highest percentage of total road length in India?
(a) National Highways
(b) State Highways
(c) District Roads
(d) Rural Roads
UPSC Mains Questions:
Q.1) Smart cities also needs smart roads. In this context analyse road condition in India. How it can be improved?
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