How many more lives must be lost for road safety to be taken seriously?

Gopinath Munde’s death is one more reason for us to ask hard questions about our appalling road safety standards


India records one of the highest number of road accidents in the world. In 2011, there was one accident every minute and a life lost every 3.7 minutes. Photo: HT
India records one of the highest number of road accidents in the world. In 2011, there was one accident every minute and a life lost every 3.7 minutes. Photo: HT

Early this morning, Union rural development minister Gopinath Munde died in a road accident in New Delhi. Munde was on his way to the airport.

India is a country where more than 300 people die every day on the road, and Munde’s death is one more reason for us to ask hard questions about our appalling road safety standards and what to do about it.

India records one of the highest number of road accidents in the world. In 2011, there was one accident every minute and a life lost every 3.7 minutes.

Statistics released by the ministry of road transport and highways in 2011 say there were 497,000 road accidents that left a death roll of 145,485 people.

In absolute numbers, India has the worst road safety record in the world.

Here are a few common sense measures that can go a long way in reducing road fatalities:

1) Seat belts save lives

Yes, they do. Seat belts are the single most effective traffic safety device for preventing death and injury, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Wearing a seat belt can cut the risk of crash injuries by 50%. They save lives:

• Seat belts saved more than 75,000 lives from 2004 to 2008.

• Forty two per cent of passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2007 were unbelted. A 2009 NHTSA study estimates more than 1,600 lives could be saved and 22,000 injuries prevented if seat belt use was 90% in every state.

2) Help when you see an accident. Be the good Samaritan

At least 50% of the lives can be saved if the victim is administered basic care within the golden hour (60 minutes after an accident). That’s about 70,000 lives saved every year. You can read more about this here.

3) Don’t talk on the mobile phone will driving

Using a cell phone while driving makes it four times as likely that you’ll crash. Read more about distracted driving here.