Road Accident Deaths
Astatus report of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways released on Monday indicates that road traffic accidents (RTAs) accounting for over 50.4 per cent deaths in Assam surpassed the tiol average of around 36.4 per cent for 2013. In Assam, 2,441 people died and 6,609 people were injured in road accidents in 2013. In 2014, the situation was definitely better with 704 deaths and 1,803 injuries. Even so, such RTAs are much too high for any State, and ways have to be found to bring down road traffic accidents drastically. The Centre has been understandably concerned about highway accidents, and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari announced on Monday that the government would spend Rs 11,000 crore over the next five years to improve the road infrastructure. According to Gadkari, road accidents cause an annual loss of around Rs 60,000 crore or three per cent of the GDP. He said that the Centre had initiated several steps aimed at minimizing road accidents. Ironically enough, in India smoother and wider highways seem to have become a major cause of fast and irresponsible driving, giving rise to more accidents rather than reducing them. The need of the hour is a return to very stringent driving tests and education at the higher secondary level about the hazards of high speeds combined with powerful cars and smooth highways. Such instruction should include graphic depiction of how braking distance increases exponentially with speed. Such instruction should be backed by convincing video clips not only of braking distances but also of the deaths and crippling injuries that road accidents can cause. The State government has an even greater responsibility in dealing with untrained, reckless and drunken drivers on our highways who cause death and disaster not only to themselves but to others as well.