Traffic on Indian roads is a hallucinatory potion of sound, spectacle and experience. Road accidents in India are on rise. What makes travel on Indian roads so heart-rending most of the times?

HAVING A HEALTHY disregard for the impossible: Indian Traffic.

The line says it all. Many enthusiasts have come and gone with a dream in their eyes and that is to revive the Indian traffic scenario but they were undervalued because they lacked that je ne sais quoi.

Some eye-opening statistics:

•6 per cent of the world’s deaths during road accidents happen in India. (While India has only 1 per cent of the world’s vehicles)
•1 person dies every 6 minutes; 10 are injured in the same time frame. (BBC; September 2005)
•Financial loss due to road traffic injuries in 2005 was Rs 550 bn that is equal to 3 per cent of GDP (BBC; September 2005)

More than 100,000 people die on Indian roads every year. Another million are injured or maimed. Most of these are pedestrians, cyclists and two-wheeler riders. This costs our nation as estimated a few years ago Rs 55,000 crore. As road infrastructure improves, and automobile sales boom, India can no longer ignore road safety. In fact I feel Indians love road rage. Life is cheaper than dust on killer roads. Be it any part of the Indian states, roads and highways are perennial nightmare for daily commuters.

The integrated approach

Large parts of Europe, North America and Japan have shown the way. They have brought down road accident fatalities through an integrated approach involving:

•Better road design and construction
•Rigorous driver training
•Stringent license requirements
•Effective enforcement of traffic rules
•Regulations that make automobiles safer for passengers and pedestrians

But doesn’t India lag far behind considering the above-mentioned integrated approach in the Indian scenario? Do we have any plans for improving post-accident rescue operations and emergency healthcare? It is heartening to know that the Indian government too is considering a national road safety body, which will take an integrated approach to the issue of safety on roads. Even though, a lot needs to be addressed and done as far as traffic problems and safety is considered on roads here.

Probably in India we have forgotten the very basic road manners like one should give way to pedestrians, observe rules while overtaking, know how to park and when not to blow horn. These are simple rules, but their observance makes a lot of difference to our daily lives. We Indians behave with great courtesy at home and with friends. But as soon as we step out we leave these manners behind. Why do we lose control of our good senses on roads?

Abhimanyu Singh(Member

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