One death every minute in India due to road accident

"During the year 2009, there were around 4.9 lakh road accidents, which resulted in deaths of 1,25,660 people and injured more than five lakh persons in India.... Driver's fault is the prime reason," A K Upadhyaya, Secretary, Road Transport and Highways, told reporters here today.

The official number of deaths increased in 2010 to 1.3 lakh. The proportion of injuries to deaths remained unchanged at 4:1. Deaths in road accidents in the country are the highest despite the fact that its population is much less than neighbouring China and more vehicles ply on US roads than India.

Road traffic injuries were the ninth leading cause of deaths in 2004 and at the current rates, the ministry said, it would be the fifth leading cause of death overtaking diabetes and HIV/AIDS by 2030.

"The loss to the Indian economy due to fatalities and accident injuries is estimated at 3 per cent of GDP," it said. On top of that, more than 52 per cent of road victims are in the age group of 25-65 years. Pedestrians, bicycle and two wheelers account for around 39 per cent of the fatalities.

"While developed countries through well planned road safety have succeeded in bringing down their accident rates, on the other hand India's accident rate and fatalities are showing an increasing trend which is a matter of concern," the ministry said.

Upadhyaya said the government has already started working on reducing the number of accidents and fatalities by setting up five working groups to lay out potential solutions to road safety and suggest short-term and long-term measures to curb road accidents in the country. "The working groups have submitted their recommendations. These will be placed before National Road Safety Commission headed by the Road Minister for deliberation and finalising a detailed action plan," he said.

Once finalised, entire plan would be rolled out in phases throughout the 12th Five Year Plan Period. The Ministry, he said, has neither yet gauged the estimated expenditure on road safety during the entire period nor has it set any target for bringing down the number of fatalities.

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