THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 11 October 2018 (Deadly roads in India)

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. 

Way forward

  • 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.

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General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials

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
Answer:  D

UPSC Mains Questions:
Q.1) Smart cities also needs smart roads. In this context analyse road condition in India. How it can be improved?