The state of traffic: why we should all be concerned

I was really happy to see that the government is considering a national road safety body to take an integrated approach to the problem of road safety in India. Apparently more than 100, 000 people die on the roads every year, one million are injured or maimed, mostly pedestrians and two wheeler riders. The economic cost of this tragedy was Rs 55,000 crores a few years ago.

The integrated approach they will follow will ensure better road design & construction, rigorous driver training, stringent license requirements, effective enforcement of traffic rules and regulation to make automobiles safer (at last!). This is the approach countries in Europe, North America and Japan have taken to ensure a sharp reduction in accident related injuries and deaths.

You might wonder why I have a particular burden about the state of the traffic, given that this is my nth post on the subject! Well, let me tell you. I don’t have part of my leg, as well as two discs in my spine, thanks to a hit and run incident when I used to ride a two wheeler. I was in hospital for six weeks, there were six operations to save the leg including two skin grafts, and it took me six months to walk properly. All because of a driver who was careless and callous.

Wait, there’s more. My wife shattered her knee, and had facial fractures to her temple and cheek bones when a lorry drove out into Harrington Road from a side lane without pausing or slowing down. He hit the back of her scooter and sent her into a spin, so she was thrown off and suffered those horrific injuries. The truck, of course, sped away, but two young men on a two wheeler chased him to Poonamallee High Road and got his number so a police case could be registered. Thank God she’s fine now after one and a half years on crutches and multiple procedures.

Recently a friend’s teenage son had to have one leg amputated after a hit and run accident involving a share taxi. He was on the pillion, was thrown off and the vehicle ran over his leg. His friend who was riding died on the spot. It has taken some six months to recover physically, but will take him many years to over come the trauma and the loss of his leg. A colleague at work recently lost her cousin in a road accident where he was killed on the spot. He was recently engaged to be married, and was eagerly looking forward to this.

I guess you get the picture? Look around you, at your family, relatives or friends. And recount how many have been injured, maimed or died on our roads. Even if there is no one, remember it could be you next. Or your spouse, a relative, friend or colleague. The toll is horrendous, and the human suffering incalculable. I know, I’ve lived through it twice over.

No my friends, this is a cause for all of us. And it’s too important to ignore because the toll is mounting by the hour and by the day.

3 Comments so far

  1. Peter (unregistered) on July 2nd, 2006 @ 1:43 pm

    Hi, David:

    I just got back from 20 days in India… Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Delhi.

    Nothing I read prepared me for India, and it took
    real _courage_ for this New Yorker to even cross the street! Things I take “for granted” here in NY, like “rules of the road” are completely unknown in India. My face has never been so close to the back end of a bus as it was in Chennai.

    I must say that the driving (stopping and avoiding) skills of drivers is awesome, but there were too many times when I thought I was going to be dead in my seat. I witnessed one accident with a youngster on the way to Mysore…
    we took the kid to the hospital, where, fortunately, he only had the wind knocked out of him – but I sincerely believed that the mob of locals were going to lynch the driver.

    The advertising slogan, “Incredible India” is good, but most western folk could never deal with the chaos (not to mention the freaking horns… after 30 minutes of a three-hour bus trip, the constant sounding of the horn was working on my last raw nerve).


  2. Maruthu Pandian (unregistered) on July 3rd, 2006 @ 8:22 am

    sorry to hear about the accidents, david.

    thank you for constantly promoting the importance of road safety.

  3. Lavanya (unregistered) on July 3rd, 2006 @ 6:44 pm

    David – thank you for sharing your personal story. You are right that this is too important a topic to ignore. If you think a citizen initiative will make a difference, please count me in.

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