Rashi Aditi Ghosh/ Zee Research Group
Maharashtra has earned the distinction for being the road accidental death capital of the country for the second year in a row. The state witnessed a growth rate of 8.6 per cent in accidental death rate during 2010 beating the country’s overall accident death rate that jumped by about eight per cent during the year.
Mumbai (9093), Pune (3822) and Nasik (1149) respectively figured as the three highest accidental death rate cities in Maharashtra during 2010. These three cities also featured as among the top four cities country-wise in terms of rate of accidental deaths with Indore in Madhya Pradesh being the fourth city.
Mumbai rate of accidental deaths grew 6.2 per cent in 2010 compared to previous year while in Pune it grew by 13.1 per cent and in Nasik it grew by 25.7 per cent respectively showing an alarming growth in number of accidental deaths in these prime cities of the state.
While Maharashtra recorded 64204 accidental deaths in 2010 as against 59114 in 2009, Madhya Pradesh recorded 35617 accidental deaths against 33675 deaths in 2009. The third highest accidental deaths took place in Tamil Nadu which recorded 32153 deaths in 2010 against 29838 in 2009, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 2010 data.
On the issue of growing number of accidental deaths in Maharashtra, Dr Nishi Mittal, head of the department, traffic engineering, at Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) said, “Total number of accidents in Maharashtra is on the rise as the state is very prompt in reporting not just accidental deaths but even minor injuries unlike other states in India. Delhi and a few other states do not always truly reflect the truth.”
The rise in accidental deaths is due to poor road transport infrastructure in the country. According to Dr Sudeshna Mitra, assistant professor in Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur and a part of National Mission Project on Pedagogic Development for the course ‘Transportation Engineering’, “High speed facilities and national highways in India are nowhere in comparison to other countries of the world.”
Both Mumbai and Delhi has their public transport but the demand of transportation has increased and this is the reason people prefer private transport and that results in more number of accidents, said Dr Miital at CRRI.
The propensity to use private transport for city transportation is also evident from the NCRB data which revealed that out of 4, 61,757 cases of traffic accidents that occurred all over India in 2010, 73,312 cases occurred during the peak office time of 6-9 pm.
Asked to explain the 6-9 pm syndrome, CRRI’s Dr Mittal said that this was essentially due to “stress levels to reach back home under office pressure and poor lighting conditions on the roads.” During the 6-9 pm band, Tamil Nadu recorded highest number of traffic accidents, followed by Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh respectively.
Pointing out to the corrupt system in India IIT Khargapur’s Dr Mitra added, “Getting a driver’s license is so easy in India. Even illiterate drivers get license very easily and their incompetency in understanding the traffic rules and regulations results in alarming increase in the number of accidents.”
On the other hand, Dr Mittal at CRRI identified the increasing trend to speed, which gives a certain thrill, as the reason for increasing deaths on the road. She pointed out that the policy framework too needed to be toned up.