India’s killer roads: how can we make them safe?

Why making them safer isn’t the responsibility of our civic authorities alone, writes Nidhi Adlakha

Globally, road accidents are the tenth leading cause of death. With an estimated 1.2 million people killed in road crashes each year globally(, road injuries are predicted to become the third-leading global contributor to disease and injury by 2020.

If we look closer home, over 400 people lose their lives on Indian roads every year, due to several reasons: rash driving, minors at the wheel, drunk driving, and countless other factors.

Down South

In 2017, the MoRTH (Ministry of Road Transport and Highways) reported that Tamil Nadu tops the country in terms of accidental deaths on the road. While efforts were taken by the State government to reduce these figures, the situation today is not any different.

Road Accident Analysis in Tamil Nadu, a 2019 report by the Transport and Road Safety Commissioner, finds that of a total of 5,173 road accidents across the State in January, 689 were in Chennai.

Additional figures show the city continuing to lead in the number of road accidents and fatalities.

Officials and city organisations are working towards a city-wide network of streets friendly for walking and cycling, with T. Nagar’s pedestrian plaza a major such project.

The use of public transport is also being encouraged, but there’s still a lot to be done to ensure safety for not just motorists but pedestrians too.

Scenario today

The TN government’s website ( mentions the following guidelines — among several others — but they are not being implemented with force.

l Introduce or revise speed limits after scientific assessment of stream speeds in different areas and install proper signs.

l Strengthen the enforcement of speed limits through technology like speed cameras.

l Introduce a more effective and efficient licensing procedure and vigorously pursue the creation of a national roster for all driving license holders.

l Ensure effective enforcement to check the violation of basic safety requirements

Also, as per the Motor Vehicle Act, helmets and seat belts are mandatory, but the rule is not implemented strictly. What we do have are motorists driving on the wrong side of the road, going down the wrong way on one-way streets, riding with helmets on their bike’s handlebars, speaking on the phone while driving... the list is endless. The poor condition of our roads doesn’t help either.

Not just the govt.

The system does have flaws, but it’s time citizens look at the role they play. It’s easy to blame the authorities but how many of us actually follow the rules diligently?

Most people are guilty of taking a short cut down a one-way stretch. Or zipping past a red light to save two minutes. All it takes is one motorist, and several others follow him — with no regard for safety, oncoming vehicles or pedestrians.

What we can and must do is follow rules and encourage fellow road users to so as well. Drive slow, grant pedestrians the right of way, follow road rules and traffic signals.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 2:50:28 PM |

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