Road accidents are the order of the day in India. There is nothing unusual about innocent people losing their lives due to a combination of several factors. First and foremost is their own indifference and ignorance of traffic rules; combined with other factors like callous drivers or the absolute insensitivity shown by the transport authorities. There is no need to go for the statistical details about the exact number of deaths or serious injuries caused due to road accidents in a particular year. Such statistics do not reflect the truth under normal circumstances. The picture given below shows a man whose car has been turned over because of a collision with a truck and the man is presumably bleeding to death.

The policeman seems to have been able to nab the driver who looks more dazed than guilty, perhaps because of the impact of alcohol which is usually the driving force for drivers across India. An ambulance is in place and two men seem to be moving towards the victim with a stretcher. This is very assuring but the nature of the tragedy leaves us with considerable anxiety about the chances of the victim’s survival. Above all, the picture does not forget to show the common men who usually do not forget to play the role of either mute spectators or aggressive agitators under these circumstances. The spot is not as crowded as city areas are expected to be. Perhaps that also explains the presence of trees, clouds, and birds in the area rather than multistoried buildings and advertisement boards.

Car crash on major highway during rainfall at night. Ambulance in foreground and police car in background.

There are some serious questions that come to my mind when I look at this picture. If we contemplate the picture at a deeper level, we are bound to be confronted by certain very disturbing questions. Why are accidents so common in India? Can nothing be done to combat the menace of rash driving? Why can’t we have a more proactive approach from the police department so that a strict vigil on the roads discourages maniacs from indulging in the killing game of rash driving? The picture shows the policeman nabbing the driver and the medical team on the spot to help the wounded.

Both these incidents are utopian in the Indian context because most drivers in such cases flee the spot and reappear in the scene after a gap of about four or five months, when people have completely forgotten about this incident. Such people also take care to bribe certain dishonest policemen to stay out of legal hassles. The police are often unable to take these people to task. Moreover such is the state of medical care in our country that more often, accident victims die before they can reach the hospital and get proper medical care. Police investigation into these accident cases is such that the common man shies away from helping accident victims for fear of police harassment.

Auto accident involving two cars on a city street

There is no gainsaying the fact that this scenario needs to change. If we do not rush to the aid of an accident victim, it raises serious questions about our identity as civilised human beings. The concerned authorities and the common man should co-operate to improve the scenario with stricter traffic laws and efficient mobile health care units. But we need political will for such a thing to happen. Suppose this person is being taken to the hospital but his ambulance gets stuck in a traffic jam caused by a VIP’s transport facilities and the man dies, whom do you hold responsible? Can we depend on such individuals to make our roads and healthcare facilities better?

Scenario of Road accident in India:

India had most deaths in road accidents in 2019: Report
A total of 151,113 people were killed in 480,652 road accidents across India in 2019, an average of 414 a day or 17 an hour, according to a report by the transport A total of 151,113 people were killed in 480,652 road accidents across India in 2019, an average of 414 a day or 17 an hour, according to a report by the transport research wing of the ministry of road transport and highways.

India continued to have the most road fatalities in the world, followed by China, a distant second at 63,093 deaths in 2,12,846 road accidents in 2019, the report revealed. The United States of America (USA) reported the most road accidents at 2,211,439, and witnessed 37,461 deaths in 2019.

According to the report, speeding was the leading cause of deaths, while, in terms of vehicles, two-wheelers were involved in most road fatalities.

Across states, most road accidents were reported in Tamil Nadu (57,228), followed by Madhya Pradesh (50,669), Uttar Pradesh (42,572), Kerala (41,111) and Karnataka (40,658) accidents.

Maharashtra ranked sixth with 32,295 accidents, but saw the second-highest number of fatalities (12,788), after 22,655 in Uttar Pradesh.

Among cities, Delhi retained its first rank with 1,463 deaths, followed by Jaipur (1,283), Chennai (1,252) and Bengaluru (768).

Mumbai ranked ninth with 447 people being killed in road accidents in 2019.

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