ROAD accidents kill 350-400 people every day in India, but the safety of motorists and passengers is not among the top priorities of central and state governments. No political party is making this pressing issue an electoral plank either. Tuesday witnessed the deaths of seven people after an ambulance collided with a truck in Bareilly district of Uttar Pradesh; three women, a man and a child died in a collision between a mini bus and an autorickshaw in Gujarat’s Banaskantha district on Monday night, a day after an accident in Uttarakhand claimed the life of a journalist based in Tamil Nadu and a doctor in Maharashtra. The “Road Accidents in India-2020” report, released last week by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, contains alarming findings. Adults in the working age group of 18-60 accounted for 87% of total road traffic fatalities in 2020. Around 70% of crash deaths were attributed to speeding, followed by “driving on the wrong side” (5.6 percent). hundred).
Although the total number of accidents and fatalities decreased in 2020 compared to 2019, the improvement in these parameters owes much to the two-month Covid-induced confinement during which traffic was severely restricted. The fact that more than 72% of accidents and 67% of fatalities occurred that year in sunny/clear weather lays bare the disastrous consequences of reckless driving. Few drivers care about driving in the lane, risky overtaking on the left being commonplace.
Amidst the gloom, however, there’s a silver lining. Solutions based on artificial intelligence are explored with the aim of reducing incidents. A project called “Smart Solutions for Road Safety through Technology and Engineering” aims to identify scenarios that can cause accidents and alert drivers using the advanced driver assistance system. Technology can indeed play a key role in making roads safer, but the human element remains essential. Disciplined conduct; extensive installation of guardrails; clear and comprehensive signage along highways – these are some of the basic measures that can curb everyday chaos on the roads.