This is Part I of our four part series.
“Revelry was at its full swing. The night was young, and their spirits could not be dampened. Racing at 160 mph, when the CITY overtook its last competitor on the bridge, little did they know that their stint in the darkness would draw them alarmingly close to a tragic end.
While two on-spot deaths were declared by the Police, the sole survivor of the accident, a 17 year old school student, was left partially paralyzed and bed-ridden for 6 months.”
Read similar News Reports before? Did this remind you of someone you personally knew?
Well, rash driving in India has won us the dubious distinction of the land with the highest recorded deaths in road accidents. With chilling statistics been laid out in the Global Status Report on Road Safety by the ‘World Health Organization’, it has been seen that at least 13 people die every hour in our country, owing to road mishaps, which makes an annual toll about 1,14,000. In fact, India has surpassed China, which had its annual death toll by road accidents estimated to be 89,455.
So, what is it that is leading India to such alarming horrors? Speeding, drunk driving and less use of helmets and seat belts seem to be common factors prevalent in people which is exposing them to avoidable but irreversible consequences.
“Speed is the main reason behind accidents. An increase in average speed is directly related to both the likelihood of a crash occurring and to the severity of crash consequences. A 5% increase in average speed leads to an approximately 10% increase in crashes that cause injuries and a 20% increase in fatal crashes. Zones of 30 kmph can reduce crash risk and injury severity and are recommended in areas where vulnerable road users are particularly at risk,” the report said.
While the road fatalities are being feared as an “epidemic”, overtaking the death toll by diseases like AIDS and tuberculosis in the near future, the globe has put itself to the task of effectively reducing traffic and managing its speed. However, India’s ballooning road toll has a different story to tell.
As incomes rise, more vehicles are squeezing on the streets that are designed for much less traffic. Trucks, buses, cars and motorbikes often vie for space on roads crammed with bicycles, rickshaws and even bullock drays and hand-drawn carts.
Hawkers on pavements often force pedestrians to walk on roads. Widespread corruption has made it possible to buy a driver’s license without being properly tested. With more than 75 million cars on the roads, recklessness and carelessness of the youth only fuels up the environment apt for road mishaps.
According to the recent statements of the Goa Traffic Police, the highest number of accidents (36%) were on national highways and 70% of the mishaps were due to the driver’s fault. Most of the victims belonged to the productive age of 20 to 35.
Going through all the available statistics and being a witness to the major danger we are exposed to, what I feel, is that a major segment of the youth needs to imbibe the element of Responsibility. Responsibility towards oneself, towards the people whose lives are affected by theirs, and towards the Laws of the country in which they reside. While under-age teenagers should not be driving, safety precautions should be compulsorily taken by all. Being very conversant with the fact that people’s personalities change when drunk, one could make sure that drunk driving is not done by their friends, at least, in their presence, while themselves abstaining from it.
Small steps taken by each of us could help India see an increased rate of responsible drivers, and a decreased rate of road fatalities. After all, Youth is the future of our country.
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