A study conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research on Monday, December 23, revealed that at least 2.2 lakh road injury deaths occurred in 2017 in India. 77 per cent of these were males which were three times higher as compared to female deaths.
The first detailed study on road injury deaths was released by the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and the apex medical research body. The research was classified by type of road users in each state of India and is published in The Lancet Public Health.
The study showed how each state had to upgrade its road safety planning methodology according to specific shortcomings. Death rates of pedestrians, motorcyclists, cyclists, and motor vehicle occupants were measured which differed four to eightfold between the states of India.
Expert opinion says that stronger law enforcement, advanced first aid and healthcare, evidence-based road safety interventions, multi-sectoral approaches etc. are needed to be strengthened across the country.
India has a higher road injury death rate than the global average with the findings pointing out that the motorcyclist death rate was 69 per cent and the cyclist death rate was 33 per cent.
Older pedestrians are more likely to die due to road injury in India according to the study. The research showed that road injury was the leading cause of death in India among 15-39-year-old males in 2017 and was the second leading cause for both sexes put together.
"India had 2.2 lakh deaths due to road injuries in 2017. Rapid urbanisation and economic growth in India have led to an increase in vehicle and traffic but the infrastructure levels are still struggling to keep pace with it, resulting in an increased number of road injury deaths." Prof Rakhi Dandona said.
"Road injury highly impacts economic and societal burden. Deaths from road injuries are preventable with stringent implementation of laws and policies by the government. If the estimated trends of road injury deaths up to 2017 continue, no state in India is likely to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2020 target of reducing the road injury deaths by half from 2015 to 2020 or even by 2030. A much higher death rate reduction is needed to meet the SDG target", Prof Vinod K Paul, a member at NITI Aayog told ANI.
Director-General, ICMR, Prof Balram Bhargav said "We found in that study that Road Injury death rate in males varied threefold across the states of India with the highest rates in the states of Uttarakhand, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir, and Himachal Pradesh. The variations between the states for road injury death rates among the different types of road users were even higher at four to eight folds.”
He also added that Manipur, Jharkhand, and Punjab saw the highest road injury death rates among females.
"Road injury needs multi-sectoral action across three levels to prevent crashes from occurring, to prevent injury if a crash occurs, and then to prevent death or disability among those injured. For this to happen, we need to move from the fatalistic attitude conveyed by 'accident' to prevent the needless loss of lives. Road safety for pedestrians, motorcyclists, and cyclists needs to be prioritised to ensure that the youth of our country do not face untimely death," the lead author of the study Professor Rakhi Dandona, Professor at the Public Health Foundation of India, said.
Experts believed that the new Motor Vehicle Act 2019 will monitor road injury and accidents closely by imposing heavy penalties against traffic violations. They also called for more attention to ensure the reduction of ‘vulnerable road user injury deaths’ which are pedestrians, motorcyclists, and cyclists in India.
(With Inputs from ANI)