The world’s first Road Accident is supposed to have occurred in 1896. Everybody concerned at that time reported having said, “This should never happen again.” But more than a century later, 1.2 million people are killed on roads every year and up to 50 million more are injured. For every one killed, injured, or disabled by Road Accidents, there are countless others deeply affected by the cost of prolonged medical care, loss of a family breadwinner, or the extra funds needed to care for the people with disabilities. Road Accident survivors, their families, friends, and other caregivers often suffer adverse social, physical, and psychological effects.
Road traffic accidents have emerged as an important public health issue that needs to be tackled by a multidisciplinary approach. The number of fatal and disabling road accidents happening is increasing day by day and is a real public health challenge for all the concerned agencies to prevent. The approach to implement the rules and regulations available to prevent road accidents is often ineffective and half-hearted. Awareness creation, strict implementation of traffic rules, and scientific engineering measures are the need of the hour to prevent this public health catastrophe.
Some Facts on Road Traffic Accidents
- Worldwide an estimated 3247 people are killed every day and it is the second leading cause of death among people aged 5−29 years.
- These accidents injure or disable between 20 million and 50 million people a year.
- 90% of such deaths occur in low-income and middle-income countries.
- The most vulnerable road users are pedestrians, cyclists, two-wheeler riders, and passengers on public transport.
- Road accident-related deaths are predicted to increase by 83% in developing countries and to decrease by 27% in the developed countries.
- It is estimated that every year Road Accidents cost billions of rupees globally and nationally i.e putting significant strain on health care budgets.
The prime reasons for most road accidents are the reckless and speedy driving, not obeying or following traffic rules, the attitudes of the “right of the mighty” bigger vehicles toward the smaller vehicles, overburdened or overcapacity hauling of public and transport vehicles, poor maintenance of the vehicles, drunk-driving, driver fatigue, and above all the appalling condition of the already choked roads with every inch encroached by unauthorised persons and properties. Human factors contribute significantly to the increasing number of road accidents in India. Most drivers continue to be acting like maniacs in a tearing hurry and error in judgment often leads to major accidents. In India, drunken driving is customary in commercial vehicle drivers. Private car owners and youngsters are also major players in the game.
Most countries have a multidisciplinary approach to traffic planning and road design. It is done by psychologists, engineers, doctors, sociologists, vehicle experts, etc., In India, road traffic is still a civil engineering issue. Lessons can be learned from the eminent guidelines and good practices for good behavior on the roads practiced in developed countries where safety, orderliness, and discipline are ingrained in the citizens, come what may. Mere celebration of the annual Road Safety Week during the first week of January does not serve any purpose. Drivers should learn to show consideration and respect to co-vehicle drivers and pedestrians so that our roads become safer. But it looks like a long way to go.