New Delhi, March 14: India may be whipping Australia on the pitch but on the roads, it’s a no-contest.
Australia’s streets are among the world’s safest while India’s commuters are among the worst sufferers because of their cavalier attitude to traffic safety norms, reveals a World Health Organisation study released today.
India registers more than 1.3 lakh road deaths a year, and the main reason is not the absence but poor enforcement of rules.
The “global status report on road safety 2013” says 1.24 million people were killed on the planet’s roads in 2010. The good news is that the figure has remained same from 2009 despite the number of registered vehicles rising by 15 per cent, suggesting global traffic safety measures have had an effect.
The report says road fatalities will fall automatically if countries can ensure their commuters do five things: avoid speeding, avoid drunken driving, wear helmets (two-wheeler riders), wear seat belts and install child restraints (child safety seats).
Only 28 countries, making up just 7 per cent of the world’s population, have adequate laws to address all these five risk factors, the report says. But of these, only four — Estonia, Finland, France and Portugal — rate their enforcement of these laws as “good”.
India doesn’t have a law stipulating the instalment of child safety seats in cars or other passenger vehicles, and has been poor in enforcing the use of seat belts and helmets except in a handful of big cities. Only half the riders wear the helmet in India although most of its road accident victims are motorcycle riders, a government report says.
Only 59 countries, covering 39 per cent of the world’s population, have implemented an urban speed limit of 50 km/h or less and allow local authorities to reduce these limits. India is one of them but lags in enforcing the limits.
Half the world’s road deaths occur among “vulnerable road users”: motorcyclists (23 per cent), pedestrians (22 per cent) and cyclists (5 per cent). Car occupants account for 31 per cent while the remaining 19 per cent is made up by unspecified road users.
Adults aged between 15 and 44 account for 59 per cent, and males for 77 per cent, of global road traffic deaths.
Road injuries are the eighth leading cause of death globally, and the leading cause of death for young people aged 15 to 29.
“Current trends suggest that by 2030, road traffic deaths will become the fifth leading cause of death unless urgent action is taken,” the report says. The annual global cost of traffic accidents is close to $100 billion.