India has the second largest road network in the world and accounts for 10% of the worldwide road fatalities. The rules and regulations are made for the safety and security of citizens and by adhering to them – we are protecting our own lives. As per the official figures, between 2011–2016, 17,745 cases of road accidents were registered in metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. Among these, 10,000 cases were just from Delhi – which is thrice more than Mumbai and Bengaluru. Data released by the Delhi Traffic Police in 2018, showed an increase of 1.26 % in the death rate, compared to the previous year. The reason behind the increase in the death rate is the violation of traffic rules such as driving without safety gear, rash driving, drinking and driving, lane cutting, using phones, jumping red light etc. Everyone is aware of the traffic rules and the repercussions of not following them – but we still violate these rules!
On 12th January 2019, in Pune, two motorcyclists who were driving without a helmet lost their lives in two separate accidents. In South Delhi’s Fatehpur Beri, on 13th January, a 40-year-old man was killed after his car rammed into a stalled mini-bus parked in the middle of the main road. Local residents rushed him to AIIMS Trauma Centre, where the doctor pronounced him dead. At least six people died and seven were injured in a road accident that took place in Hissar, Haryana on 15th January, by a truck driver who was at a breakneck speed. Many road accidents occur every day in our country due to the carelessness of some individuals. They are not just putting their lives at stake but also of those who are dependent on them.
The government has been taking necessary steps to ensure safety on roads by making citizens understand the importance of following traffic rules in different ways. Apart from this, the government also carries out campaigns on road safety through electronic/print media and also conducts workshops in schools and colleges. To control the accidents caused by rash driving, speed breakers have been installed in areas where accident rates are high. As per the report released in Hindustan Times, 1,193,558 people were fined for riding without helmets, 1,163,438 challans for improper parking and 6,25,468 driving without seatbelts in 2018. It shows the gross negligence of public in adhering to traffic rules meant for their own safety!
As per the report released by HT and the study conducted by Delhi Traffic Police, 1500 people died in road accidents and half of those deaths were due to bad road planning, poor infrastructure, encroachment of pavements, and as discussed above violation of traffic rules. However, it just isn’t a fault of planning, most of the pedestrian deaths are also a result of people refusing to use facilities such as subways or foot overbridges that are constructed for their own convenience. For example, at the Huda City Metro Station in Gurugram, the government has constructed overhead bridges, but most of the people still prefer crossing the road and endangering their lives. To reduce accidents, underpasses were constructed, but according to the road safety experts this isn’t a solution – implementation of speed calming measures and segregation of lanes in the underpasses is also required to control the speed of vehicles.
Pedestrians should also follow traffic guidelines meant for their own safety – starting from using the zebra crossings, underpasses, footover bridge to not using their phones while crossing the roads. The most common cause of road accidents is drunken driving – so it’s our duty to avoid consumption of alcohol if we intend to hit the road. If drivers stick to the speed limits set for highways/busy roads, a lot of accidents can be avoided.
In the end, preventing road accidents is the responsibility of every citizen. Only government measures and Challans/fines cannot solve the problem. Adhering to the traffic rules is the first step to avoid road accidents and make our roads safer for drivers as well as pedestrians. Keeping the roads safe is not just the government’s responsibility and it cannot work without public cooperation. All road users can actively contribute in making roads safer for other travellers and pedestrians simply by following rules and calling out those who don’t.