Time to really curb road traffic accidents

Monday, 21 November 2022 | in Guest Column

Dr BKS n Gaurav Dr BKS Sanjay & Dr Gaurav Sanjay


The World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims (WDoR) was observed, as every year, on the third Sunday of November. Fatal road traffic accidents in India are a common scenario. About 90 per cent of the accidents are due to drivers’ negligence. The main causes of accidents are over speeding, overtaking, overloading, lack of sleep, driver fatigue, drunken driving and recently the use of mobile phones while driving. The important factors affecting the speed of the vehicle are driver related aspects like age, gender, alcohol intake, fatigue, number of people in the vehicle, concomitant use of mobile phone etc. Over speeding is fatal at any time but it is more fatal at night time. A road traffic accident in the daytime killed one of the important persons of the country which also grabbed the headlines. On September 4, 2022, former Tata group chairman Cyrus Mistry (54) and his co-passenger Jahangir Pandole (49) were killed and two other family friends were seriously injured.

The road traffic accident which killed Cyrus Mistry along with his friend was a tragic accident for several reasons. Mistry was travelling in a Mercedes GLC SUV which hit a road divider at the Surya river bridge which was the part of Mumbai Ahmedabad national highway. This tragic accident would have been avoided if there were warning signs at the various points before the start of the bridge. A police report revealed that Mistry who was seated in the backseat of the vehicle was not wearing a seat belt at the time of accident. 

In a four-wheeler the wearing of seat belt can reduce the fatality of the accident significantly but the lack of awareness about the importance of seat belt and ineffective enforcement of the traffic rules by the traffic police are two major reasons for not wearing the seat belt.

After the highlight of the death of Cyrus Mistry, the minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has passed an order. It has become mandatory to wear the seat belt for all passengers including those who are sitting in the backseat, failing which a penalty will be imposed.

The technical reports released by Palghar police revealed that the speed of the car at the time of the crash was 89 kmph and it seems that the speed of the car before the crash must have been around 100 kmph. Though the permitted speed limit had been fixed 80 kmph on national highways but it was 40kmph particularly in that stretch due to high density of traffic and bifurcation of the road at the Surya river bridge. The Mercedes Benz technical report revealed that the car brakes were applied just five seconds before crash.If the car was driven at 90 kmph before the crash that means the car was running 1.5 km (1,500 meters) in a minute or 25 metres in a second which is too less time for the brake mechanism to reduce the speed of any vehicle of any make. On analysing this fact it is right to say that “higher the speed, greater the risk and higher the fatalities”.

The average longevity of humans in India is currently 74 years and we are sure this will further increase in the near future if we take care.  Mistry would have had at least 20 years of his life and that too working life to look forward to.

Another eye opening tragic accident happened on Purvanchal Expressway on October 16 where four young people were killed in their BMW car which collided against a truck in which all four people died on the spot. The four friends, all in their thirties, were travelling from Bihar to Delhi. One of the four was the only child of his parents and he also had a four-year-old son, another left two children and the third was married only last year. A Facebook live video shared by one of the passengers just before the accident showed that the car touched a speed of 230 kmph while the maximum speed limit on the expressway is 100 kmph. The photos of the accident on social media revealed that the vehicle was absolutely battered and nearly unrecognisable under the truck. That indicates the severity of the impact of the accident.

Facebook live video captured before the actual accident revealed that one of the co-passengers was not only repeatedly boasting that Rs 50,000 was spent on the vehicle’s servicing for this ride but also urging the driver to increase the speed up to 300 kmph to get more thrill. Speed thrills, but also kills.Considering the age and background of deceased, it is not only the loss of the deceased family but also a loss to society and the nation.The second decade of action for road safety 2021-2030 was proclaimed by UN with a target to reduce 50 per cent road deaths and serious injuries by 2030. India is signatory to this. All stakeholders should understand that 90 per cent of the accidents are due to the driver’s negligence and all should act in that direction. Therefore the public should learn and follow the traffic rules and the government should educate and enforce the traffic rules. Only then will the aforementioned target be achieved otherwise it will remain only a dream.

(Padma Shri recipient Dr BKS Sanjay and Dr Gaurav Sanjay are orthopaedic surgeons based in Dehradun. Views expressed are personal)

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