As per data compiled by the SaveLIFE Foundation, a non-profit committed to saving lives on roads in India, the country recorded more than 600 road crashes over the course of the two phases of the nation-wide lockdown (24th March till 14th April and 14th April to 3rd May).
During the last five weeks, around 140 lives have been lost due to road crashes across the country, with over 100 deaths recorded in across 9 states alone. These are Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Assam, Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Punjab and Tamil Nadu.
Further analysis of these road crash deaths reveals that around 30 percent of these victims were migrants travelling back home. Almost 57 percent of the deaths were of people driving during the lockdown. The most common causal factor across these crashes was speeding. Tragically, the rest of the road crash deaths were of essential workers like doctors etc who were travelling either from or to their place of work.
While there has been a dip in the absolute number of road crash fatalities during lockdown due to suspension of public transport and general mobility, the rate of deaths in road crashes has remained unchanged, highlighting how unsafe Indian roads are even when the majority of the country has been under restrictions.
Commenting on the same, Piyush Tewari, Founder and CEO, SaveLIFE Foundation said, “India suffers the highest number of road crash deaths globally each year. Though there will be a dip in that number this year due to the lockdown, 140 deaths in over 600 crashes goes to show gains achieved will be lost as soon as things go back to normal. The third phase of the lockdown is a golden opportunity for States to fix engineering faults in our roads and institute mechanisms for electronic enforcement so that when things become normal, we can keep road fatalities low.”
Many states have issued Standard Operating Protocols (SOPs) for the inter-state movement of people. Governments should also prioritise road safety while notifying these SOPs, since a large number of crashes have involved vehicles ferrying people across states. The health system is already over-burdened. It is imperative that we stick to safe driving practices to ensure that the health workers are not further burdened with preventable road crash cases.