IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Road Accidents in India

30th December, 2022 Economy

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  • The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has published the annual report ‘Road accidents in India — 2021’.

The Report

  • The report provides information on various facets of road accidents in the country during the calendar year 2021.
  • This report is based on the data/information received from police departments of States/Union Territories collected on calendar year basis in standardized formats as provided by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) under the Asia Pacific Road Accident Data (APRAD) base project.
  • It consists of ten sections and covers information relating to road accidents in the context of road length and vehicular population.

Findings of the Report

  • India witnessed as many as 4,12,432 road accidents in 2021 in which 1,53,972 people were killed.
  • Road accidents decreased by 8.1 percent and injuries decreased by 14.8 percent in 2021 compared to 2019. Fatalities, however, on accounts of road accidents increased by 1.9 percent in 2021 corresponding to the same period in 2019.
  • Road accidents increased by 12.6% year on year in 2021 (i.e compared to 2020). There was a rise of 16.9% y-o-y in fatalities and 10.39% y-o-y in injuries due to road accidents during the year.
  • Major reasons behind accidents: Over-speeding, drunken driving, lane indiscipline, traffic light violations, on-use of helmets, using cell phones while driving. Violations such as over-speeding and driving on the wrong side do not constitute human error alone but are also possible faults in road design. 

Road accidents in India

  • According to World Bank India ranks first in the number of road accident deaths across the 199 countries.
  • With only 1 per cent of the world's vehicles, India accounts for 11 per cent of the global death in road accidents, the highest in the world, according to World Bank.
  • Witnessing 53 road crashes every hour; road accidents are killing 1 person every 4 minutes.
  • The country accounts for about 4.5 lakh road crashes per annum,in which 1.5 lakh people die.
  • In the last decade, 13 lakh people died and another 50 lakh got injured on Indian roads.The 2019 World Bank report, titled 'Guide for Road Safety Opportunities and Challenges: Low- and Middle-Income Countries Country Profiles', puts the road crash and serious injury cost estimate at 7.5 per cent of India's GDP or Rs 12.9 lakh crore for 2016.

Reasons behind Road Accidents in India

The major reasons that cause accidents in India are:

  • Crossing the speed limit:Over speeding is one of the major causes of road accidents in India.
  • Intoxication -Driving under the influence of heavy medication, alcohol, or drugs is another major reason for road accidents in the country. Any driver found with more than 30 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood is under the influence of alcohol and is a culprit of drunk driving.
  • Reckless driving- Reckless driving includes over-confidence, street racing, running stop signs and red lights, changing lanes too quickly, tailgating the vehicle in the front, and hurling abuses at other drivers on the road.
  • Not following rules and regulations on the road: Being unaware of rules and regulations on the road or knowingly ignoring them is another major cause of road accidents in India.
  • Deplorable conditions of the road:Despite the vast network of roads in the country, most of them have potholes, without road signs or under construction for a long period. All these lead to road accidents.
  • State of the vehicle:Many vehicles in India are not fit enough to operate on the roads in India. For instance, a vehicle may operate on the road without proper tyres, the vehicle may be overloaded or it might not be repaired.
  • Distracted Driving:The number of accidents occurring due to distracted driving has increased are in the past decades. Reading messages, replying to texts, taking calls, reading, grooming, etc.
  • Avoiding Safety Gears like seat belts and helmets.


Justice Radhakrishnan Committee:

§ It has pointed out serious lapses in implementation of safety laws by States, which has led to increasing number of road fatalities.

§ It asked the State governments to formulate their respective State Road Safety policies besides setting up State Road Safety Councils.

§ States have to draw up a protocol to identify black spots on their roads and their removal.

§ The committee directed the States to strengthen enforcement on drunken driving, over speeding, red light jumping and helmet and seat belt laws.

§ Other directions include, tightening of road patrols on highways, establishment of road safety fund to which a portion of traffic fines collected would go to finance road safety expenses and remove encroachments on pedestrian paths, among others.


Steps taken to prevent Road Accidents

Motor Vehicle Amendment Act and its Provisions:

  • A major initiative of the Ministry in the field of Road Safety has been the passing of the Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill 2019:

[Vehicle Fitness]

  • Automated fitness testing for vehicles has been made mandatory under MVAThis would reduce corruption in the transport department while improving the roadworthiness of the vehicle.

[Recall of Vehicles]

  • The Act allows the central government to order for recall of motor vehicles if a defect in the vehicle may cause damage to the environment, or the driver, or other road users. The manufacturer of the recalled vehicle will be required to:
  1. reimburse the buyers for the full cost of the vehicle, or
  2. replace the defective vehicle with another vehicle with similar or better specifications.



[Road Safety Board]

  • A National Road Safety Board, to be created by the central government through a notification to advise the central and state governments on all aspects of road safety and traffic management including –
  1. standards of motor vehicles,
  2. registration and licensing of vehicles,
  3. standards for road safety, and
  4. promotion of new vehicle technology.

Education and Awareness

  • Observance of National Road Safety Month/Week every year for spreading awareness and strengthening road safety.
  • A Certification Course for Road Safety Auditors has been commenced in Indian Academy of Highway Engineers (IAHE).
  • For the first time, the Government of India celebrated the “Road Safety Month – 2021” with the themes: Sadak Suraksha- Jeevan Rakshato increase awareness about road safety.

Engineering (both Roads and vehicles)

  • Ministry has identified black spots (accident prone spots) on National Highways based on accident and fatality data and rectified many of them.
  • Guidelines for pedestrian facilities on National Highways for persons with disabilities have also been issued to all States / UTs.
  • Ministry has notified fitment of Speed Limiting devices on all transport vehicles.
  • Scheme for setting up one model Inspection & Certification Centre in each State/UT.

National Road Safety Policy

  • This Policy outlines various policy measures such as promoting awareness, establishing road safety information data base, encouraging safer road infrastructure including application of intelligent transport, enforcement of safety laws etc.

National Road Safety Council

  • An apex body to take policy decisions in matters of road safety.

4 Es

  • Multi-pronged strategy to address the issue of road safety based on 4 ‘E’s viz. Education, Engineering (both of roads and vehicles), Enforcement and Emergency Care.

Model Driving Training Institutes

  • Setting up of model driving training institutes in States.

Tightening of safety standards

  • Tightening of safety standards for vehicles like Seat Belts, anti-lock braking system etc.

Road Safety Engineering Workshops

  • National Level Workshops and several Regional Training workshops in various states have been organized on Road Safety Engineering.


  • “Grant of Financial Assistance for Administering Road Safely Advocacy and Awards for the Outstanding Work Done in the Field of Road Safety”. 
  • Crash Safety Norm of the vehicles have been revised.
  • Setting up of model Institutes of Driving Training and Research (IDTR) Centres.
  • A central repository, Integrated Road Accident Database (iRAD) system has been developed for reporting, management, claim processing and analysis of road accidents data to enhance road safety in the Country.


2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Target 3.6: pledges to halve by 2020 “the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents”.

Target 11.2: calls on providing, by 2030, “access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety”.

Target 9.1: calls for developing “quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure”, including through investments in transport infrastructure.

The goals represent strong international road safety commitments and a renewed momentum for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020.


Way Ahead

  • Road safety education from the primary level. Including "Road Safety" in the school syllabus.
  • Stricter exams and practical tests for driving licenses.
  • Better road design, maintenance and signage.
  • Crackdown on driving under influence of alcohol and drugs.
  • Bystander Training Programmeshould be undertaken in a time-bound manner.
  • Enforcement of traffic rules:The Amended Motor Vehicles Act has higher penalties and punishment to deter people from committing traffic offences and driving rashly. But States have been lukewarm towards hard steps to bring order to the roads, viewing zero tolerance rule enforcement through the lens of populism. It is still far away from being implemented or enforced properly on a national level.
  • Encouraging better road behavior: Hyundai has been running a very educative and innovative campaign "Be the Better Guy", with some of the advertisements and films even featuring superstar Shahrukh Khan. Such campaigns that urge people to behave in a better manner on the road and "Be the Better Guy", need to be applauded, encouraged and expanded.
  • Better law enforcement:In India, though the law is in place, its enforcement and communication is weak.

  • Enforcement of all road safety laws needs to be improved. Enforcement efforts must be well-publicized, sustained, and implemented through the use of appropriate measures and penalties for infringement.
  • Only with high political will— and there is no evidence this is present in all the States — we can hope of ending the “silent pandemic” of accidents that will need education, civil society cooperation and professional policing.


Brasilia Declaration

  • The Brasilia Declaration, adopted at the second global high-level conference on road safety held in Brazil, lays down recommendations on strengthening existing legislations, adopting sustainable transport and strengthening post-crash response.
  • In the declaration, participants reasserted their commitment to reduce the deaths caused due to traffic accidents to half by the year 2020. This target was set under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Stockholm Declaration

  • Known as the "Stockholm Declaration", this seminal commitment to address the 1.3 million lives lost every year on the world's roads, and the tens of millions who are seriously injured, was agreed by some 1 700 delegates from around 140 countries.

International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP)

  • The International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) is a registered charity dedicated to saving lives by eliminating high risk roads throughout the world.
  • iRAP works in partnership with governments, road authorities, mobility clubs, development banks, NGOs and research organisations to:
  1. Inspect high-risk roads and develop Star Ratings, Risk Maps and Safer Roads Investment Plans
  2. Provide training, technology and support that will build and sustain national, regional and local capability
  3. Track road safety performance so that funding agencies can assess the benefits of their investments.
  • iRAP’s Plan is aligned to the Global Plan for the Decade of Action launched in October 2021.

United Nations Road Safety Collaboration

  • Established in 2004, the UNRSC is an informal consultative mechanism whose goal is to facilitate international cooperation and strengthen global and regional coordination among UN agencies and other international partners to implement UN General Assembly Resolutions on road safety.

Closing Thoughts

  • The data and analysis on road accidents will help create awareness, formulate suitable policy, take effective measures and also assist in informed decision making in the area of road safety. The success of road safety initiatives requires active cooperation and participation of all stakeholders.
  • Data on road accidents and the basic analysis will be useful to administrators, policy makers, civil society organizations as well as researchers in analysis of road safety issues leading to appropriate policy interventions to achieve reduction in road accidents and resultant fatalities.

United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)


The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is one of the five regional commissions under the jurisdiction of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. It was established in order to increase economic activity in Asia and the Far East, as well as to foster economic relations between the region and other areas of the world.


The commission is composed of 53 Member States and nine Associate members, mostly from the Asia and Pacific regions. In addition to countries in Asia and the Pacific, the commission's members include France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States.


The region covered by the commission is home to 4.1 billion people, or two-thirds of the world's population, making ESCAP the most comprehensive of the United Nations' five regional commissions.


The commission was first established by the Economic and Social Council in 1947 as the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE) to assist in post-war economic reconstruction. Its main mandate was to "initiate and participate in measures for facilitating concerted action for the economic reconstruction and development of Asia and the Far East."

On 1 August 1974, the commission was renamed to the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) by the Economic and Social Council to reflect both the economic and social aspects of the Commission's work, as well as geographic location of its members.


India is a full member of the Commission.




Asia Pacific Road Safety Observatory (APRSO)

The Asia Pacific Road Safety Observatory (APRSO) is the regional forum on road safety data, policies and practices to ensure the protection of human life on the roads across Asia and the Pacific.

APRSO was established by a group of international development organizations – the Asian Development Bank (ADB)The World Bank GroupFédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA)the International Transport Forum (ITF) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), with support from the World Health Organization and UK Aid through the Global Road Safety Facility (GRSF). ADB serves as the secretariat for APRSO. The establishment of the Asia-Pacific Road Safety Observatory was announced in February 2020 on the eve of the Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety in Stockholm, Sweden.

It is a concerted effort by the development community and road safety stakeholders to better support countries in Asia and the Pacific in their efforts to drastically reduce road traffic fatalities and serious injuries.

India is not a member country of APRSO.

APRAD Software

The APRAD software was developed as a tool for UNESCAP and its member countries to develop, update, maintain and manage the road accident database for Asia-Pacific. The package contains three versions with different access levels and security options: data analysis; data input; and full version.