It’s a medical fact that if a road accident victim is brought to a trauma care centre within the ‘golden hour’, then his chances of survival are quite high. Even though India accounts for 10 % of road crash fatalities worldwide, government hospitals along highways have failed to establish requisite trauma facilities to cut down the rising numbers of accident deaths.
As per the guidelines of National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), it is mandatory to set up trauma centres every 100 kilometres. To meet this criteria, the ministry of health and family welfare took out a scheme — Capacity Building for Developing Trauma Care Facilities in Government Hospitals on National Highways” — under the 11th Plan (2007-2012).
The motive was to upgrade accident and emergency services in government hospitals along highways so that no trauma victim has to be transported for more than 50 kilometres and a designated trauma care facility is available at every 100km. It was also planned that ambulances would be deployed in three shifts of eight hours each on all major highways.
The scheme started in the 11th Plan was slated to cover the Golden Quadrilateral Corridor (5846km) and North-South and East-West corridors (7716 Kms) by establishing 140 trauma care facilities at a total outlay of Rs 732.75 crore.
However, facilities continue to be dismal for highway accident victims as aid could only be provided to 116 trauma centres in 16 states under the 11th Plan.
Under the 12th Plan (2012-2017), 85 more trauma care facilities are to be established in government hospitals in or around national and state highways. These have been planned in accident-prone areas on highways not covered earlier, which have identified ‘black spots’ and where mortality due to lack of trauma facilities has been consistently high.
These 85 trauma centres would be implemented with an estimated cost of Rs 534.64 crore on cost sharing basis between the Centre and states in the ratio of 70:30. In the case of the North-East and hill states of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir the cost would be shared in the ratio of 90:10.
Government figures show that highway accidents increased by 10.4 % between 2003 and 2012. While 127834 accidents took place in 2003, the numbers increased to 149732 in 2011. They dipped slightly to 142694 in 2012 but were still over 10 % higher than figures reported nine years earlier.
According to NCRB, 377 deaths and 1287 injuries were reported every day due to road accidents in 2013. Among these, 66 people died after being hit by trucks or lorries.
A report by the transport research wing, ministry of road transport and highways, states that national highways accounted for 30 % of total road accidents and 36 % of total number of people killed in 2010. State highways accounted for 24.5 % of total accidents and 27.3 % of people killed in road accidents in 2010.
Estimates by the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that motor vehicle crashes kill about 1.3 million people every year. The figures are set to rise to 2 million by 2020 unless new safety measures are taken. Road traffic injuries are the third largest cause of death and disability.
If absolute numbers are taken into account, more people die in road crashes in India than anywhere else in the world. WHO states that the death rate per 100000 population for road traffic accident has increased from 16.8 in 2009 to 18.9 in 2013. This rate is much higher than neighbouring countries like Pakistan (17.4), Nepal (16), Myanmar (15), Sri Lanka (13.7), Bhutan (13.2) and Bangladesh (11.6).
Leaders who succumbed to highway accidents
Rajesh Pilot, a senior Congress leader and former Union minister, died in June 2000 near his constituency Dausa in Rajasthan in a road accident. He was killed while returning to Jaipur after a visit to his constituency.
Sahib Singh Verma, former Delhi chief minister and former Union minister, died in a highway crash in June, 2007 at the age of 64. A senior BJP leader from Delhi, Verma was also the party’s national vice-president.
Giani Zail Singh, the seventh President of India, died in November 1994 in a serious vehicle accident in Ropar district of Punjab.