July 20, 2012

Road accidents or preventable and predictable massive public health concerns?

I was watching a movie in the first floor of our house that fateful afternoon of '94 when that call came and changed our lives forever. It was my mother who had called from the ground floor of our house to inform me through her uncontrollable tears that she had just then received a call that my younger brother had died in a road accident. I rushed down hoping against hope that it was someone else. My dad was sure it wouldn't be someone else – as I drove our car frantically towards Gurgaon where the accident had happened – and advised me to drive slowly. He had done his maximum possible to see to it that we never developed a fascination for motorbikes. An avid reader of about a dozen papers everyday, my father was definite that a motorbike was a sure-shot route to disaster on Indian roads. So the soonest he could, he bought a car for us. I still remember that day in 1993, after he had bought a fifth-hand 1977 model Toyota, he entered the house, lay down on the bed in a relaxed manner and told my grandmother, “I have put a "kavach" (a shield) around my children today.” Unfortunately, that was not to be.

So, that afternoon, did my brother really let my father down by taking a ride on a two-wheeler from our institute’s campus to the highway to have lunch? No. I believe every 20-year-old at times takes his own decision and thinks that this much seems quite fine a risk. We all have the right to go out on the road and come back alive. It’s India’s pathetic road safety that let him down. We are a country of road killers. The highest number of road deaths in the world happens in India. If it were America, chances are fifty times more that my brother would have been alive.

While with only a mere 12 million vehicles, we have about 114,000 deaths on Indian roads, with about 250 million plus cars in the USA, they have only 41,000 road accident fatalities per year. That is, in India for every 100 cars we have one road death; in USA, there’s one road death for every 5,000 cars! And how does this difference take place? Is it because there people don't drink? Well, the daily normal alcohol consumption per capita is far higher in the West, especially among the youth – which is involved in the maximum number of road accidents. Is it because people in the West don't drive fast? Well, the average speed limits in developed nations are far higher than those in India. And it is in developed nations that more youths have access to vehicles on the road and ergo tend to be more reckless; then how is it that the West manages to systematically bring their accident numbers down to such abysmal lows, while we aren't even bothered? Or is it that only the 26/11 deaths should be considered as deaths but thousands of more preventable deaths happening in every other family around us are not deaths but God’s sweet will? Can you fathom this, that as a nation, we lose $20 billion annually to road accidents, enough money to do away with 50% of our country's malnutrition problem?
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16 comments:

Deepak Verma said...

It's good to know you can help people in small ways sometimes... I think that's the goal of every responsible citizen of the country..

geet said...

Accidents, and particularly street and highway accidents, do not happen - they are caused because of some kind of carelessness.

Atanu said...

Is better to lose one minute in life... than to lose life in a minute.

Avinash Rawat said...

Very well said sir,it is the responsibility of everyone to look for their own safety as well as the people around them.

aaryan said...

The factors that contribute to roadway accidents are mostly preventable and only require reasonable care.

santosh kumar said...

Proper education and guidance about this matter specially among the teens may help alot to slow down the race of accidents.

Pyush said...

Patience is something you admire in the driving and can be safe with.

Sumit said...

One should follow the speed limits for certain areas and for safety.

Dipti Nayak said...

The anxiety, increased stress levels and road rage that can be caused by getting lost are unnecessary distractions on today's busy roads when motorists need to be alert and able to concentrate.

rajesh said...

Road discipline is a must due to the growing number of vehicles.If anyone jumps a traffic light, then it should be captured by CCTVs and a fine should be imposed.

suman kumari said...

We are keen on restricting speed in order to prevent accidents, rash driving and over-speeding involving our buses and trucks.

Nisha said...

Its Better to be a thousand times careful than once dead.Everyone should follow the rules.

Sudhir Kumar said...

People are hearing the education of the awareness and the programs being organised by the government for the safety rules on roads.

Rajesh Sharma said...

Traffic planning and road design can also help in the reduction of the accidents on roads.

willson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Janett Abernethy said...

Really sad to hear about your brother. Speeding doesn't make you a worse driver look at the autobon for example, drivers can drive as fast as they want. How often is there an accident there. When a driver drives fast a driver becomes more cautious and watches the road much closer and the other vehicles around. Meaning there would be less accidents, if anything in my opinion drivers that drive too slow cause accidents because then people get anxious and mad and decide to pass at inappropriate spots i would also have to agree with everthing Adam said before me.

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