India witnessed 17 deaths and 55 road accidents every hour in 2016, one of the highest in the world, according to the latest report released by the Union road transport and highways ministry. The report compiled by the ministry’s Transport Research Wing said road accidents killed 150,785 people across India in 2016 — a 3.3% jump from 2015 when 146,000 lakh road fatalities were reported — indicating Indian roads continue to be one of the deadliest in the world. The number of road accidents, however, declined from 501,000 lakh in 2015 to 480,652 lakh in 2016.
“This reflects an alarming trend that while the number of accidents has gone down, their severity has increased resulting in many more deaths. One of the main reasons for the high number of fatalities is over-speeding by drivers,” said a senior road ministry official
According to a World Bank estimate, road accidents cost India about 3% of its gross domestic product every year. Almost half or 46.3% of the road fatalities victim in 2016 were in the age-group of 18-35 years. The maximum number of road accidents — 1.9 lakh — occurred on two-lane roads.
At 1,591, Delhi topped the list of million plus cities that reported the highest number of road accident deaths in 2016 while Chennai had the highest number of road accidents at 7,486.
Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number of road accident deaths in 2016 at 19,320 followed by Tamil Nadu at 17,218 and Maharashtra at 12,935. Overspeeding accounted for the highest share of 66% accidents and 61% deaths and talking on mobile phone caused 4976 road accidents and 2138 deaths. At 33.8% two-wheelers accounted for the highest share in the total number of road accidents followed by cars, jeeps, and taxis at 23.6%.
Of the 52,500 two-wheeler riders killed in road accidents, 19.3% were not wearing helmets at the time of the accident.
The spiralling road accident numbers bring to the fore the urgency to expedite the passage of the of the motor vehicle amendment bill that lawmakers have put on hold for the last several years. The amendments, proposed in 2010, is yet to see the light of the day.
Once approved, it will pave the way for a host of reforms including imposing hefty penalties for traffic violations. The bill was referred to a parliamentary panel for review during the monsoon session.