Tuesday, December 11, 2018

20 out of one lakh die in traffic accidents

Traffic deaths are now the leading global cause of deaths for children and young adults between 5 and 29 years old as per the recently released WHO Global Status Report on Road Safety 2018. People living in low-income countries have a risk that is three times higher than those in high-income countries. The rates are highest in Africa (26.6 per 100 000 population) and lowest in Europe (9.3 per 100 000 population). And, over twice as many patients die before they reach a hospital in low-income countries than in high-income countries.

Although, low-income countries account for only 1% of the world’s motor vehicle accidents, 13% of deaths due to road traffic accident occur in those countries. The lowest rates of road traffic deaths are in the Americas and Europe, with 15.6 and 9.3 deaths per 100,000 people, respectively. The highest death rates are in Africa and Southeast Asia: 26.6 and 20.7 deaths per 100,000, respectively.

More than half of all road traffic deaths are among vulnerable road users: pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. Globally, 29% of deaths are car occupants, 28% are those using motorized two- and three-wheelers, 26% are pedestrians and cyclists and the remaining 17% are unidentified road users.

The United Nations has prioritized eight vehicle safety standards for implementation, which include frontal and side impact protection, electronic stability control, pedestrian front protection, advance braking. But, not all standards are implemented.

Five behavioral risk factors are speeding, drunken driving, not using motorcycle helmets, not using seat belts and not using child restraints. Head-on crashes, for example, occur on undivided roads while the lack of a footpath or a safe crossing presents a major risk for death and injury to pedestrians.

Speedbreakers are constructed in accident-prone areas as “safeguards”. But, in what can be called a paradox, they are also the cause of 30 crashes daily, killing at least nine people a day as per Road Transport ministry data (TOI).

The Indian Road Congress has laid down norms for speedbreakers and the required road markings. Speed breakers should be painted with alternate black and white stripes for visual warning besides suitable advance warning signs located 40 m in advance of the speed breaker.

One case titled as "Guru Hanuman Society versus Govt of NCT of Delhi & others” bearing WPC No 104/2015 is pending adjudication before the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi,  in which vide order dated 25.05.2016 the Hon'ble Court has passed some directions/guidelines wrt the speed beakers in Delhi. The Hon'ble Court has directed all the concerned authorities to follow the prescribed norms/rules and directions of the Court wrt building and maintenance of speed beakers.

Driving with high beam is another major cause of road accidents. High beams are to be used only in multiple laned highways where there is no chance of a motorist blinding driver travelling in the opposite direction. They are not meant for use inside the cities.

As stated in Rule 112(4)(a) of Delhi Motor Vehicles Act “the driver of a motor vehicle shall at all times, when the lights of the vehicle are in use, so manipulate them that danger or undue convenience is not caused to any person by dazzle”. 

On 26th September, 2018, Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) had filed a Right to Information application to Ministry of Road Transport and Highways thereby asking following questions:

  1. Is there any law relating to “high beam lights in vehicles” in India?
  2. Can a vehicle drive on high beam in colonies / cities in India?
  3. If the answer to query no. 2 is “no”, then what is the punishment for a vehicle which is driving on high beam?
  4. What actions / rules Government of India has made for stopping vehicles from driving on high beams in colonies?

  1. How many accidents are taking place because of use of high beam by vehicles in colonies / cities in India? 

Vide reply dated 11.10.2018, the Transport Research Wing of Ministry of Road Transport & Highways had stated that: “Regarding query no. 1-4 of the application: TRW does not collect / compile information regarding high beam lights in vehicles and accidents because of use of high beam lights in vehicles in India. Thus, the information sought by you is not available in TRW”. 

This is indeed disturbing.

Recognizing the urgent need of enactment of stricter laws with respect to the use of high beam lights in vehicles, HCFI has filed a representation before the Hon'ble Prime Minister and Minister of Transport thereby requesting them to enact stringent laws on use of high beam lights in vehicles in cities, colonies, towns, etc. and the offenders should be punished for violating the same, awareness should be created among the public at large about the cons of using high beam lights in vehicles in inside the city. 

Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri Awardee
President Elect Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania   (CMAAO)
Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications
President Heart Care Foundation of India
Immediate Past National President IMA

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