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Report on Road Accidents: World Bank

  • 16 Feb 2021
  • 6 min read

Why in News

Recently, the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways released the World Bank Report titled “Traffic Crash Injuries And Disabilities: The Burden on India Society”.

  • The Report has been prepared in collaboration with the NGO-Save Life Foundation.
  • The survey data was collected from four Indian states i.e. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.

Key Points

  • Global Fatalities due to Road Accidents:
    • Road Traffic Injuries (RTIs) - Eighth leading cause of death.
    • Road Crash Fatality Rate - Three times higher in low-income countries compared to high-income countries.
  • Road Accidents and Related Deaths in India:
    • Accounts for 11% of the global death in road accidents, the highest in the world.
    • Accounts for about 4.5 lakh road crashes per annum, in which 1.5 lakh people die.
  • Economic Impacts of Road Accidents:
    • Estimated Economic Loss - 3.14% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), indicating underreporting phenomenon in the country.
    • Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) Estimates -
      • Socio-economic cost of Road Crashes is equivalent to 0.77% of the GDP.
      • 76.2% of people who are killed in road crashes are in their prime working-age, 18-45 years.
  • Social Impact:
    • Burden on Households:
      • At the individual level, road crash injuries and deaths impose a severe financial burden and push entire (non-poor) households into poverty and the already poor into debt.
      • Every road accident death causes depletion of nearly seven months’ household income in poor families, and pushes the kin of victims in a cycle of poverty and debt.
    • Vulnerable Road Users (VRUs):
      • VRUs bear a disproportionately large burden of road crashes and account for more than half of all road crash deaths and serious injuries in the country.
      • It is often the poor, especially male road-users of working age, that constitute the category of VRUs.
        • Daily wage workers and workers employed as casual labourers in informal activities are more prone to be defined as vulnerable compared to workers engaged in regular activities.
      • In India, where VRUs are forced to share space with other less vulnerable road users, the income level of an individual has a direct bearing on the mode of transport used.
    • Gender Specific Impact:
      • Women in the families of victims bore the burden across poor and rich households, often taking up extra work, assuming greater responsibilities, and performing caregiving activities.
        • About 50% of women were severely affected by the decline in their household income after a crash.
        • About 40% of women reported a change in their working patterns post-accident, while around 11% reported taking up extra work to deal with the financial crisis.
    • Rural-Urban Divide:
      • The income decline for low-income rural households (56%) was the most severe compared to low-income urban (29.5%) and high-income rural households (39.5%).
  • Steps Taken at Global Level:
    • Brasilia Declaration on Road Safety (2015):
      • The declaration was signed at the second Global High-Level Conference on Road Safety held in Brazil. India is a signatory to the Declaration.
      • The countries plan to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 3.6 i.e. to half the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents by 2030.
    • Decade for Road Safety:
      • The United Nations (UN) declared 2011-2020 as the decade of action for Road Safety.
    • UN Global Road Safety Week:
      • It is celebrated every two years, the fifth edition (held from 6-12 May 2019) highlighted the need for strong leadership for road safety.
    • The International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) :
      • It is a registered charity dedicated to saving lives through safer roads.
  • Steps Taken by Indian Government
    • Motor Vehicles Amendment Act, 2019:
      • The Act hikes the penalties for traffic violations, defective vehicles, juvenile driving, etc.
      • It provides for a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, which would provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India for certain types of accidents.
      • It also provides for a National Road Safety Board, to be created by the Central Government through a notification.
      • It also provides for the protection of good samaritans.

Way Forward

  • Policy-oriented approaches are needed for saving lives and improving the ability of victims and their families to get back on their feet, including providing immediate financial, medical and legal aid.
  • Areas that require immediate improvements include post-crash emergency care and protocols, insurance and compensation systems.
  • There is a need for development agencies, policymakers and respective state governments to prioritize a complete policy overhaul of the existing system and implement sustainable solution-oriented, inclusive measures to improve their performance on road safety.


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