Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Road Accidents-

Minimizing Deaths on Road: A world’s and country’s scenario.
Key facts.:
  • About 1.4 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes in the world.
  • Road traffic injuries are a leading cause of death among young people aged 15-29 years.
  • Over 90-% of the world’s fatalities on the roads occur in low-income and middle-income countries, even though these countries have less than half of the world’s vehicles.
  • More than 1.6 lakh people die in India every year due to accidents.
  • Nearly half(46%) of those dying on the world’s roads are “vulnerable road users”- pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
  • Without action, road traffic crashes are predicted  to result in the deaths of around 2 million people annually by 2020 (1million = 10 lakhs)
  • Only 15% countries have comprehensive laws relating to five key risk factors: speeding, drinking and driving, use of motorcycle helmets, seat belts and child restraints.
WHAT CAN BE DONE:                    
Create safe road infrastructure by implementing all aspects of road safety.
  • Create and amend laws on road safety like changing from 304A, IPC, to a stricter law so as to create the fear of law among offenders.
  • Start teaching road safety from nursery classes like moral science to create more responsible citizens of for road safety.
  • Create a wing like NSS for road safety such as RSS (Road Safety Service) in schools and colleges.
  • Have a separate Road Safety Police/Traffic Police Wing, fix their responsibility and accountability for road safety.
  • Strictly enforce all the road safety rules so that the public should fear breaking them.
  • Ask manufacturers to produce safer vehicles and consider including. Also locks and mobile jammers while driving.
  • Strictly implement laws related to speed governors in goods vehicles/schools buses etc.
  • Restrict access to highways.
  • Promote/Publicise road safety more aggressively.

MINIMIZING DEATH ON ROADS by Kamalzit Soi in The Tribune dated 11.1.2012
More than 1.6 lakhs Indians die in road accidents annually. Death and injuries cause a considerable economic loss to victims, their families and the country. Still traffic injuries are not included in the health agenda despite being printable.

       Every year the lives of almost 1.4 million people are cut short as a result of a road traffic crash in the world. More than1.6 lakh people die in India due to RTAs(Road Traffic Accidents). Between 20 and 50 million more people suffer non-fatal injuries, with many incurring a disability as a result of their injury.
       Road traffic injuries cause a considerable economic loss to victims, their families and to the nation as a whole. These losses arise from the cost of treatment, including rehabilitation and incident investigation, as well as reduced/lost productivity (e.g. in wages) for those killed or  disabled by their injuries, and for family members who need to take time off work(or school) to care for the injured.
       There are few global estimates of the costs of injury, but an estimate carried out in 2000  suggested that the economic cost of road traffic crashes was approximately US $ 518 billion. National estimates have illustrated that road traffic crashes cost countries 1-3%of their Gross National Product, while the financial impact on individual families has been shown to result in increased financial borrowings, and even a decline in food consumption. In India, according to a rough estimate, we lose more than Rs. 1,60,000 crore every year.
          Road traffic injuries have not been included in the global health agenda for many years despite being predictable and largely preventable. Evidence from many countries shows that dramatic successes in preventing road traffic crashes can be achieved through concerted efforts that involve, but are not limited to, the health sector. But is it on agenda on our government in India, or for that matter Gujarat? No it is not.

         WHO IS AT RISK?
More than 90% of the deaths that result from road traffic injuries occur in low and middle income countries. Road traffic injury death rates are the highest in the low-and-middle income countries of the African and Middle Eastern region. Even within high income countries people from a lower socio-economic background are more likely to be involved in a road traffic crash than their more affluent counterparts.
Children and young people under the age of 25 years account for over 30% of those killed  in road traffic crashes. Road traffic fatality rates are higher in younger age groups.

From a young age, males are more likely to be involved in road traffic crashes than females. Among young drivers, young males under the age of 25 years are almost three times as likely to be killed in a car crash as young females.

Key Risk Factors

Road traffic injuries are preventable and can be prevented. Government need to take action to address road safety and accident prevention in a holistic manner that requires involvement of multiple sectors(transport, police, health, education, NGOs)
and that addresses the safety of roads, vehicles and road users themselves.

Effective intervention includes designing safer infrastructure and incorporating road safety features into land-use and transport planning; improving safety features of vehicles and improving medical services and post-crash care for victims of road-crashes. Intervention that targets road user behaviour are equally important such as setting and enforcing law relating to key risk factors and raising public awareness about these. Here are some key risk factors:-


An increase in the average speed is directly related to both the likelihood of crash occurring and to the severity of the consequences of the crash. Some other facts are below:-

  • Pedestrians have 90% of surviving a car crash at 30 km/h or below but less than50% chance of surviving the impact of 45 km/h above.
  • 30 km/h speed zones can reduce the risk of a crash and are recommended in areas where vulnerable road users are common(e.g. residential area, around schools)
  • Apart from reducing road traffic road injuries, lower average traffic speeds can have other positive effects on health outcomes (e.g. by reducing respiratory problems associated with car emissions)

Drinking and driving increases both the risk of crash and the likelihood that death or serious injury will result.
  • The risk of being involved in a crash increases significantly above a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05 mc.g (micro gram).
  • Laws that establish BAC of 0.05 mc.g or below are effective at reducing the number of alcohol related crashes.
  • Enforcing sobriety check-points and random breath testing can lead to a reduction in alcohol-related crashes by about 20% and have shown to be very cost-effective.
  • Penalties should be heavy and court should not be lenient with offenders.


  • Wearing a helmet on a scooter/motor cycle correctly can reduce the risk of death by almost 40% and the risk of severe injury by  over 70%.
  • When scooter/motorcycle helmet laws enforced effectively, helmet wearing rates can increase to over 90%.t he
  • Requiring helmets to meet recognized safety standards is important to ensure that helmets can effectively reduce the impact of collusion to the head in the event of a crash.
Seat Belts and Child Restraints
  • Wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of a fatality among front-seat passengers by 40-50% and of rear –seat passengers between 25-75%.
  • Mandatory seat-belt laws and their enforcement have been shown to be very effective at increasing seat-belt wearing rates.
  • If correctly installed and used, child restraints reduce deaths among infants by appropriately 70% and deaths among children between 54% and 80%.

Distracted Driving

There are many types of distractions that can lead to impaired driving, but lately there has been a marked increase around the world in the use of mobile phones by drivers that is becoming a growing concern for road safety.

The distractions caused by mobile phones can impair driving performance in a number of ways e.g. longer reaction times (notably braking (applying brakes) reaction time, but also reaction to traffic signals), impaired ability to keep in the correct lane and shorter following distances.

·        Text messaging also results in considerably reduced driving performance with young drivers at particular risk of the effects of distraction resulting from this use.
·        Drivers using a mobile phone are approximately four times more likely to be involved in a crash than when a driver does not use a phone. Hands-free phones are no much safer than hand-held phone sets.
·        While there is little concrete evidence yet on how to reduce mobile phone use while driving, governments need to be proactive. Actions that can be taken include adopting legislative measures, launching public awareness campaigns and regularly collecting data on distracted driving to better understand the nature of this problem.

The write is the vice-chairman of the Punjab Sate Road Safety Council.

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