The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Speed kills on city roads

New Delhi, Nov. 17 (PTI): High-speed driving, unregulated traffic and technical flaws in vehicles are the major reasons for the ever-increasing accident rate in the country, especially in big cities, a report filed before Delhi High Court said.

The report, combined in a petition filed before a bench of Justice Dalveer Bhandrai and Justice H.R. Malhotra, is based on various researches made on road-safety aspects and the nature of traffic on Indian roads, which every year claim over 70,000 lives.

The report was filed by advocate Rajiv Bansal who was appointed amicus curiae by the court to assist in adjudicating the issue of instalation of speed governors in all four-wheelers in New Delhi, where nearly 3,000 people are killed in motor accidents every year.

Seeking setting up of a road accidents investigation organisation as an independent body to check accidents, the amicus curiae said: “A research has shown that vehicles driven at the speed of 30 km per hour account for 10 per cent of fatal accidents and probability of deaths increases to 80 per cent if the speed is 50 kmph and above.”

The report said 50 per cent of victims were pedestrians.

Appreciating the efforts of the amicus curiae to bring to the court’s notice a comprehensive scenario of the problems on the Indian roads, the bench issued notice to the Delhi government and police commissioner to submit their replies.

The report described overspeeding as the single largest contributor to road accidents all over the world. For this reason, most European countries have put a limit of 30 kmph on the speed of vehicles in their cities, it said.

The court had taken suo motu action for registering a public interest litigation on higher road accidents in the national capital last year after a child was crushed to death by a bus when he was trying to board his school bus.

The court subsequently had issued a directive to the Delhi government and its state transport authority to make instalation of speed control devices mandatory in all commercial vehicles.

Stating that Delhi has witnessed a phenomenal growth of vehicles during the past five decades, the report said Delhi, which had only 12,000 of them in 1945, had over 33 lakh registered vehicles till 1999. At present, 600 new vehicles are added to this fleet every day.

The report also has cited lax traffic rules, certain technical flaws in designs of vehicles and easy availability of driving licences as other reasons for the high rates.

“A major threat to road safety has arisen from deficiency in the vehicles’ designs, especially their ancillary parts, though science and technology has provided means to prevent accidents with a reasonable degree of accuracy in the designs,” it said.

“Traffic policing in India is not defined and authority of the traffic police overlaps with their municipal transport functions,” the report said.

The government has “failed” to address these issues while thousands of people continue to die in road accidents every year, it added.

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