Our road safety rule enforcement worse than sub Saharan Africa: WHO

dc  | k. karthikeyan

Nation, Current Affairs

India has not set fatality reduction targets

Several pot holes seen dotting the MGR Nagar junction in Chennai on Thursday. (Photo: DC )

Chennai: City police may have booked an additional 60% over-speeding cases in 2014 (1.02 lakh cases till October and 62,713 in 2013), but this is grossly insufficient according to WHO's (World Health Organization) "global status report of road safety 2013" that profiles the road safety rule enforcement in over 175 countries. The report has placed India much behind even many sub-Saharan African countries in respect of road rules enforcement.

The report has exposed the shoddy enforcement of motorcycle helmet, seat belt, drunken driving and child restraint laws in particular, in the country. On a scale of ten, the WHO has given three points each to India on enforcement of national speed limit and drunken driving laws. Worse, the country scored an appalling two points in motorcycle helmet and seat belt law enforcement. The country's indifference to child safety was laid threadbare in the WHO report that shows India as not even having a national child restraint law. One may not need a better commentary of India's dismal record considering that WHO had chosen to carry on the opening page of its report, the image of an overloaded India autorickshaw carrying school students and their bags perilously hanging behind the vehicle, a common sight in many cities in modern India.

Even a relatively poor Rwanda does doubly better than India in respect of seat belt, motorcycle helmet and drink-driving laws. Crime prone Colombia and Chad were awarded six and five points on the ten-point scale for motorcycle helmet law implementation. Compared to the consistent seven and eight point that countries like Norway scored on the ten-point scale, the improvement shown by agencies thus far this year is still a far cry from what many developed countries have achieved. The status report, which also profiled deaths by road user category, revealed that most casualties (32%) were two or three wheeler riders followed by four-wheeler users who account for 16% of the total road accident deaths.

Worse, nine percent of road accident casualties are pedestrians. Five percent of the total dead are cyclists. Buses and trucks only account for eight and 13 percent respectively. According to the WHO assessment, only between 11 and 49% of the serious injured get transported by ambulance in the country.