India has ‘dubious distinction’ in road accidents: SC panel
NEW DELHI, MAY 22
India had the “dubious distinction” of leading the nations having maximum road accidents, a Supreme Court panel said today, as it lashed out at the Centre and the states for lack of coordination even over collection of data on road accident victims.A Supreme Court-appointed committee on road safety said “India has the dubious distinction of leading the world in road related accidents and deaths” but there was no coordination between the central and state authorities on the collection of data on road fatalities.
The three-member panel, headed by former apex court judge K S Radhakrishnan, said “as per the figures published by the (Union) Ministry of Road Transport and Highway, the number of persons killed in road accidents in the year 2013 was 1,37,572.
“The accuracy of the data published by the government of India is questionable since the data submitted by the state government to the committee shows the number of deaths as 1,42,011.”
Pointing to the discrepancy in the numbers, it said there was no uniform pattern to collect data and asked the government to establish a methodology for collecting and reporting data that ensures accuracy.
The committee, which also comprises former secretary in Surface Transport Ministry and TERI fellow S Sundar and former Chief Scientist of Central Road Research Institute Dr Nishi Mittal, said it found no cooperation or coordination between various ministries like Health, Education and transport in addressing the issues of road safety.
An “alarming situation” which has come to light was that 70-75 per cent of two wheelers plying on the road were without any insurance, the panel, which completed a year of working on May 14, said.
Further, there were “serious lapses” in all the states in implementing road safety laws and measures, the committee members said in an interaction with reporters here.
A serious concern that emerged from meeting officials of various states was there was no uniformity in identifying “black spots” or location of repeated accidents, the panel said, adding that there was a need for drawing up a protocol to identify such black spots.
The committee, which has already submitted three reports to the apex court, passed a slew of directions for all state governments for their compliance by June 30 in order to address the lapses in implementing road safety measures.
The recommendations include formulation of a State Road Safety Policy, setting up a council, strengthening patrolling of roads and curbing drunken driving, over-speeding and red-light jumping.
“Set up a lead agency which will act as the secretariat of the council and also coordinate all activities relating to road safety in the state. These would include the functions of the police, PWD, education department, health department, local bodies, NGOs and other departments which are concerned with the road safety,” the committee said.
It also advocated the adoption of traffic calming measures and speed reducing techniques like providing rumble strips, speed breakers, road signs etc in locations where accidents occurred due to over-speeding.
“Ban sale of alcohol on state and national highways. Establish a Road Safety Fund and make available a portion of the fines collected from traffic offences to the fund and/or make adequate provisions in the budget for meeting expenses on road safety,” the committee said.
Effective measures to remove encroachment on pedestrian paths need to be taken so that these paths remain available for the use of pedestrian, it said.
“The committee believes that only continuous monitoring of the action being taken by various states to promote road safety will lead to reduction in road accidents and deaths.”
It also asked the government to ensure that no discrimination was made by two-wheeler manufacturers between the base model and higher models in the provision of safety features.
Taking note of these recommendations, the apex court has directed the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to call a meeting of all the states and Union Territories by May 31 to deliberate on the committee’s recommendations, its implementation and further measures that could be taken.