lost lives

Road accidents kill 382 in India every day – 1,682 times more than terrorism

As many as 139,671 people lost their lives on India’s roads during 2014.

India’s daily death toll due to road accidents is more than four times the annual death toll from terrorism.

As many as 139,671 people lost their lives on India’s roads during 2014 – 382 deaths every day.

For comparison, the total number of deaths (civilians and security personnel) due to terrorism-related incidents was 83 in all of 2014.


Source
Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, South Asia Terrorism Portal


Predictably, most of those who die on the roads perish because of preventable causes: speeding, drink driving and overloading.

The large number of deaths among pedestrians and cyclists also indicates that any moves to get people to shun motorised transport in favor of these environmentally-friendly modes are not likely to succeed.

After falling for two years, the number of road accident deaths in India rose again during 2014, according to the latest report from the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways.

The majority of these deaths, nearly three-fourths, have been termed as ‘fault of the driver’, a catch-all term that includes speeding, drink driving, driving on wrong side of the road and not signaling properly.

Here are the five factors that India can address to cut the tide of death:

1. Speeding is the biggest killer on Indian roads

Speeding is the single factor responsible for the maximum number of deaths on Indian roads.

During 2014, 57,844 deaths – 41% of the total – were due to accidents caused by speeding.

Speeding has accounted for a similar share in the earlier years as well and has consistently accounted for over 50,000 deaths on roads for the past several years.


Source: Road Accidents in India, 201120122013 & 2014


Speeding is typically the easiest factor to control, and a small reduction in vehicle speed yields disproportionate results in terms of safety.

A pedestrian struck by a car driving at 37 km/hr has an average risk of death of 10%, according to a study sponsored by AAA Foundation, a US association dedicated to road safety. This increases exponentially with vehicle speed and rises to 90% for higher speeds.


Source: AAA Foundation 


These numbers suggest some big gains can be made with directed effort.

India’s national and state highways, which together account for less than 5% of the road network, accounted for 63% of the total road deaths during 2014. Speeds on highways are typically higher than speeds within city limits and are often violated because of lax enforcement.

The Mumbai-Pune Expressway is a prime example; the speed limit of 80 km/hour is observed more in the breach. Strict enforcement of speed limits on highways could save thousands of lives.


Source: Road Accidents in India 2014


2. Overloaded, badly loaded trucks kill 100 every day

Overloading of vehicles, particularly trucks, makes them hard to control, especially when they need to brake. However, it is a common practice on Indian highways. Similarly, driving with protruding loads – for instance steel rods protruding out of trucks – is also a common sight on Indian roads, albeit illegal. These two causes accounted for 36,543 deaths in 2014.

Both of these are preventable causes and have been showing a declining trend for the past few years. Again, since the heavy truck traffic is largely on national and state highways, better monitoring and enforcement can save lives.


Source: Road Accidents in India, 201120122013 & 2014


3. Drink Driving and the lives of others

Advances in automotive technology mean that a drunken driver safely belted in can often walk away from an accident. The pedestrians/two-wheelers/smaller vehicles that he/she hits may not be as lucky.

Madhya Pradesh and Bihar account for almost a quarter of all deaths due to drink driving. Among smaller states, Haryana and Uttarakhand have tolls way higher than many larger states.

Traffic police in major cities like Mumbai and Delhi have been conducting sustained campaigns against drink driving in response to high-profile cases. Going by the numbers, such campaigns are particularly needed in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana and Uttarakhand as well.


Source
: Road Accidents in India 2014


4. Helmets Please – and some basic regard for others

Two-wheelers account for the largest share of vehicles on Indian roads. So, it is not a surprise that they also account for the largest number of fatalities.

In 2014, 30% of all road deaths were of riders/passengers on two-wheelers, while bicyclists accounted for 3% and pedestrians for 9%.

Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of severe injury by 72% and the risk of death by 39%, according to the World Health Organisation. However, wearing a helmet is mandatory only in a handful of Indian cities, and only for two-wheeler riders, not other passengers. Helmets are not mandatory for cyclists.

India’s two-wheeler density is a fraction of other middle-income nations, such as Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia. As India’s economy grows, so will the number of two-wheelers – and safety issues will have to be tackled.

Meanwhile, in what can only be termed as bizarre, there have been protests against making helmets mandatory in cities like Pune and Madurai, spearheaded by lawmakers and lawyers.

The 16,000-plus deaths among pedestrians and cyclists indicate that Indian roads are not very friendly to either of the two most vulnerable road users.

Any attempts to clean up city air by urging people to shun cars/bikes and pedal/walk instead are doomed to fail unless pedestrians and cyclists can move around safely without being bullied by larger vehicles. That will require proper pavements and pedestrian crossings, along with some common courtesy.


Source: Road Accidents in India, 201120122013 & 2014


5. The safety effect of building more mass transit in cities

India’s 50 largest cities accounted for 16,611 road fatalities in 2014, with Delhi, Chennai and Bengaluru taking the top three spots.

The number of road-accident deaths has fallen in Delhi and Chennai consistently. Monitoring road users and enforcing laws is easier in bigger cities than other areas. The Delhi Metro could also have played a part in making the capital safer.

The mass-transit system ferries more than two million people every day and helps keep vehicles off roads, reducing congestion and accidents.

Mumbai is another standout in terms of road safety; it has fewer road deaths compared to smaller cities like Chennai, Bengaluru or Kanpur. This is because Mumbai has fewer vehicles on the roads in proportion to its population, as it has a reasonably efficient, albeit greatly overloaded, mass-transit system.

It is another matter that many more people are killed on railway tracks than on roads in Mumbai due to inadequate safety measures. A recent RTI query reveals that eight people die every day in Mumbai – while crossing railway tracks or because of falling from overcrowded trains.


Source: Road Accidents in India, 201120122013 & 2014


Building more public transport could play a big role in improving India’s urban road safety.


This article was originally published on IndiaSpend.com, a data-driven and public-interest journalism non-profit.



Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

Play

This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.