Some make it to the news. Especially when it involves a well-known public figure like Cyrus Mistry, or a celebrity sportsperson like Rishabh Pant. Some find sharp but transient attention in public discourse, such as all those pothole-related fatalities, or incidents like the horrific one in Delhi that rocked the nation at the start of the year. Others are simply relegated to an obscure corner of the daily newspaper, while many many more are never reported at all. The truth, though, is that every single road crash is one too many. Yet through years of deliberations, legislation and piecemeal initiatives we have not had much success in making our city roads any safer for commuters.
According to data from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH), India saw 4,12,432 road accidents in 2021 alone, which claimed 1,53,972 (more than 1.5 lakh) lives and caused injuries to 3,84,448 (more than 3.8 lakh) persons. Tragically, the worst affected age group is 18-45 years, which accounts for about 67% of total accidental deaths. 45.4% of these accidents took place on roads other than National and State Highways.
Pedestrians, cyclists and two wheeler riders comprise the most vulnerable section of road users, with fatalities among them in 2021 touching nearly 1 lakh, a rise of 42% since 2017.
The operationalisation of the Motor Vehicles Amendment Act 2019, had raised hopes for safer roads but clearly its implementation and impact have been limited.
Read more: Three ways in which the new Motor Vehicles law could make our roads safer
Why do Indian roads continue to be such death traps?
The excessive motorisation on Indian city roads, not designed to accommodate these mammoth volumes of traffic, is undoubtedly a key factor. But there are other factors too, which call for deep exploration and collective ownership of responsibility. Experts have for long cited multiple focus areas – such as road design, speed management, responsible driving, effective implementation of rules – for mitigating the risk of road accidents and fatalities in urban areas.
We have, however, little to show for what has been attempted and achieved with regard to the above, as statistics continue to show alarming incidence of accident-related injury and death.
- What are the key patterns observed in urban road mishaps over the recent years?
- What do we see in terms of the 4 Es considered critical to reducing accidents: Education, Engineering (road infrastructure), Enforcement, and Emergency Care?
- What should be the role and immediate priority of each stakeholder – the state, police and citizens themselves – in bringing down the incidence of road accidents in our cities?
- What kind of legal redress and compensatory mechanisms exist for accident victims? Can their strengthening lead to greater collective responsibility and caution?
To explore these and other significant answers that could pave the way for safer urban commute, Citizen Matters shall bring together a panel of experts – who will share their policy insights, domain knowledge, experiences and ideas on the topic, with a view to framing a call to action for all stakeholders involved.
Read more: Golden hour, CPR and more: Life-saving lessons we should all know
Where and when
The webinar will be held on Friday, January 20th from 6:15 pm. The panel discussion will be followed by a brief Q&A session open to all attendees.
You may register in advance for this meeting here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
The discussion will also be livestreamed on our Youtube channel.
Sarika Panda Bhatt, Founder-Trustee, Raahgiri Foundation
Sarika is Associate Director in Nagarro and founder Trustee of Raahgiri Foundation, and is leading the Raahgiri Day movement in Haryana. She is also helping other cities to replicate this hugely successful concept. Sarika leads the non-motorised transport work and India Vision Zero work in Haryana and Punjab. Sarika has about 15 years of experience in the field of urban development, transport, environment and architecture.
Sarika was selected as one of the 60 global women leaders in the world who are making a change in how we move in our cities. The recognition came from TUMI, Germany. Sarika was also selected as the bicycle mayor of Gurugram by BYCS, Netherlands.Sarika has been formally trained as an architect and urban planner. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and a Master’s degree in Planning from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. Sarika also has a Master’s degree in Sociology.
Ranjit Gadgil, Programme Director, Parisar
Ranjit Gadgil is the programme director at Parisar Pune. An IIT Kanpur graduate, Ranjit’s current interests are non-motorized transport, transportation policy, governance issues, policy advocacy and public outreach. He also leads efforts in Parisar on air pollution and road safety and has been involved in efforts related to strengthening road safety laws in India. He was instrumental in the city of Pune adopting urban street design guidelines and developing the country’s first comprehensive bicycle plan.
Bhargab Maitra, Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Kharagpur
Dr Bhargab Maitra is currently a Professor in Civil Engineering Department, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, India. He is a well-known Transportation specialist and very actively involved in various works related to road safety. He has worked extensively on road engineering aspect, enforcement aspect, speed management aspect, and also on enhancing knowledge of safe driving rules among drivers.
Professor Maitra works closely with several organizations who have the responsibility of making our transportation system safer – to name a few, Kolkata Traffic Police, West Bengal Traffic Police, Transport Department-Govt. of West Bengal, PWD-Govt. of West Bengal, NHAI and MoRTH.
Ruju Thakker, Advocate, Bombay High Court
Ruju Thakker has been a practising Advocate at the Bombay High Court for over a decade. She has done her LL.B. from Mumbai and LL.M. in International Law from the USA. Besides being on the panel of Income Tax, Customs, GST and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Ms Thakker has been pursuing public causes like filing a Public Interest Litigation for amending the rules for police recruitment and training and working on getting better roads in the state of Maharashtra since 2015.
She has filed a contempt petition in a suo moto PIL, calling out the fact that despite the Bombay High Court passing detailed directions on roads, the same have not been complied with. Recently, on the said Contempt Petition, the then Hon’ble the Chief Justice and Justice Abhay Ahuja passed Orders stating that if any untoward incident happens because of bad roads, the concerned Municipal Commissioner, Metropolitan Commissioner and Chief Engineer shall be personally held responsible.
Do join us for the discussion and learn how each of us can contribute to safer roads, and also demand accountability from the various other players responsible for that.