Road accidents: only a few good Samaritans despite incentives

One of the many: Mangled remains of a car involved in an accident which claimed two lives.  

The Capital witnessed one road accident death every six hours in May and June this year. Even as the police records showed 245 fatalities and 1,025 injuries in road accidents in the two-month period, only nine good Samaritans chose to walk the extra mile to help the victims, states a Right to Information (RTI) query.

The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), in a reply to a query filed by The Hindu regarding the total number of citizens rewarded under the “Financial Incentive to Good Samaritans/Bystanders” scheme, stated that four such instances were recorded in May followed by five in June.

The scheme has been implemented by the Health and Family Welfare Department.

The traffic police statistics recorded a daily average of three fatal accidents in which four persons were killed and 16 left injured.

A total of 245 deaths in 239 fatal accidents and 1,025 injuries in 801 simple accidents were recorded in the two-month period.

In January 2017, a scheme entailing a reward of ₹2,000 to a person who takes an accident victim to medical care was approved by the Cabinet at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. But the scheme was implemented only in late April this year.

“The scheme is under implementation since April 25, 2018... It is currently being implemented as a pilot for six months only...,” the RTI reply read.

A senior Delhi government official said the policy was part of a larger framework of guidelines revolving around the State-funded treatment of burn and acid attack victims in public spaces.

This had been availed by around 1,000 citizens, the official stated.

SC guidelines

Cash rewards to good Samaritans were proposed in the wake of a hit-and-run accident which saw a 35-year-old security guard, Matibul, being mowed down by a speeding tempo in west Delhi’s Subhash Nagar in 2016.

No passerby stepped forward to help him. Instead, a rickshaw puller stole his mobile phone.

Guidelines in relation to the protection of good Samaritans were a result of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the SaveLIFE Foundation in 2012.

The Supreme Court approved it in 2016.

Mixed Bag

SaveLIFE Foundation founder and CEO Piyush Tewari said that factors such as the responsiveness of official emergency officials like the police also had to be factored in such cases.

The data related solely to the number of citizens being rewarded could present an isolated picture, he said.

“Not all witnesses in an accident case may be taking the step to hospitalise the victim but they should inform the police. However, the extent to which the citizens respond to such cases has remained stagnant since 2013,” Mr. Tewari said.

Of the four people deemed good Samaritans in May, the RTI reply dated July 27 stated that one had refused to accept the cash incentive. The disbursement of ₹2,000 each to the remaining three persons was pending the procurement of their respective bank account details, it added.

In June, only one good Samaritan was rewarded while the bank details of the remaining four were awaited by the department for the same.

Enough light on scheme?

Another question to be asked in relation to the implementation of the scheme, he pointed out, was whether it was being adequately and effectively publicised by the Delhi government to ensure more involvement from the citizens. “The Delhi government would also do well to ensure that hospitals display the charter related to the rights of good Samaritans as per Supreme Court guidelines which are not being followed in this respect. The issue is well within the jurisdiction of the Delhi government to be taken account of,” he added.

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 7:54:12 AM |

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