A 23-old-taxi driver and a 42-year-old man who was his family’s only earning member were killed on Monday when a black-and-yellow taxi jeep rammed into a flatbed trailer truck near Shivle on Malshej Ghat road.
This is just one accident among thousands that take place in India. In 2012, the National Crime Records Bureau’s published report recorded 135,000 deaths due to traffic collisions alone for the year 2010. The same year, 275,000 deaths were recorded in road accidents, making India the second highest country with road fatalities after China.
One could argue that China and India figure at the top due to their populations, respectively the highest and the second-highest in the world. Yet, these numbers hide important facts such as India’s indifference towards road and vehicle safety, highway design, the corruption in the procedure to obtain licences, the lack of paramedical personnel on our highways, and the sheer indifference to adhere to traffic laws by vehicle drivers.
One of the most important operational reform that may help save lives on our highways is to standardise storage in cargo trucks. Hundreds of truck drivers lose their lives because company owners force them to take loads much higher than the prescribed limit, and that too in unsafe conditions. This is done to save costs.
Look at our vehicle design. In a recent test by global safety organisation, not a single Indian car could reach world safety standards, and most were declared hazardous for lack of basic safety equipment. Add to that the nonchalant attitude of our drivers, and we have a recipe for disaster.
Not that India does not have the laws; in fact, it has far too many. Yet, there has never been a considered effort to regular vehicular traffic on the highways. Until that is done, perhaps India's death toll on the roads will continue to rise. And families will continue to be torn apart by fatalities.