The tragic death of Union rural development minister Gopinath Munde in a road accident in Delhi on Tuesday has once again brought into focus the alarmingly high number of road accident deaths in the country. According to statistics available with the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), approximately 1.30 lakh people die in road accidents in the country every year.
In 2012, as many as 16,175 road accident deaths were reported from Tamil Nadu, with Uttar Pradesh coming a close second with 15,109, and Maharashtra reporting 13,936 fatal accidents.
Road mishaps are so rampant in India that 19 deaths are reported every hour, or more than a death every three minutes.
As per NCRB statistics, Maharashtra alone reported over 60,000 accidents and 13,936 people lost their lives in 2012. Last year, 61,890 mishaps were reported in the state with more than 12,000 people losing their lives.
According to highway traffic police, the main culprit is over-speeding, followed by dangerous lane cutting and overtaking. Drunk-driving is the third largest cause for death on roads.
Most mishaps occur on highways, during late nights or early mornings, when there are not many vehicles on roads, giving drivers the opportunity to over-speed. And when they drive recklessly, many lose control of their vehicles as they do not anticipate well and ram into vehicles parked on roadsides or those coming in the opposite direction.
"Traffic movement on highways is nothing like the movement of vehicles in the city. There are several heavy vehicles moving in and out of the city. Since roads are relatively free, everyone wants to speed. While doing so, they tend to overtake slower vehicles in front. This sometimes prove life threatening," said a senior highway traffic police officer.
It has been observed that due to the mistake of one motorist, many die. Following the basic lane rule, driving at a speed in which the vehicle can be controlled, and proper signalling are some of the basic rules to be followed while driving, especially on highways.
Dr PS Pasricha, former director general of police, Maharashtra, said: "The main cause of accidents is the lack of traffic culture and wrong attitude. There are no stringent laws for giving driving licence, and people obtain it without much difficulty. Our attitude and carelessness while driving must change, only then will there be safety on roads."