Need to actualise goals of UN Decade of Action for Road Safety

The numbers say it all. Every four minutes a life is lost in a road accident in India with 1,40,000 deaths recorded in 2012 alone. In the past decade, over a million people have lost their lives in road accidents in the country and over 5 million have been left seriously injured or permanently disabled.

According to Save LIFE Foundation, an advocacy group which aims to reduce the high number of road accident deaths in India through rapid emergency care for injured victims, “road safety has been a victim of India’s policy paralysis since 2001”.

“Detailed investigations into road crashes are a rarity, officials in-charge of road safety are almost never held accountable, road design continues to be dangerous, and Indian laws around road safety remain deficient and poorly enforced,” maintained the group.

Save LIFE Foundation founder Piyush Tewari said: “The sole statute governing road safety in India, the Motor Vehicles Act-1988 (MVA), has proved ineffective in addressing any of these issues decisively. Even the last tabled Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2012, which was passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2012, was archaic and contained recommendations which will not solve the current situation on Indian roads.”

Ms. Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman, director of the United Nations Information Centre for India and Bhutan, in a release issued on Tuesday maintained that the unfortunate death of Union Minister for Rural Development Gopinath Munde in a road accident here on Tuesday morning once again draws attention to the critical issue of road safety.

She said there is an urgent need to actualise the five pillars on which the goals of the ongoing UN Decade of Action for Road Safety are based: road safety management; safer roads and mobility; safer vehicles; safer road users; and better post-crash response.

The World Health Organization 2013 Global Status Report on Road Safety indicates that worldwide the total number of road traffic deaths remain unacceptably high at 1.24 million per year.

Only 28 countries, covering 7 per cent of the world’s population, have comprehensive road safety laws on five key risk factors: drinking and driving, speeding, and failing to use motorcycle helmets, seat-belts, and child restraints.

For India, the report notes the rising fatalities in road accidents – rising from 8 deaths per lakh of population to nearly 12 in 2010. Sixteen per cent of all such deaths occur in four wheeled cars and 32 per cent in two or three wheelers.

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