Over-speeding caused maximum accident-related deaths in 2020: Govt report
According to the report titled 'Road accidents in India -- 2020', more than 11 per cent of deaths and injuries were caused due to non-usage of seat belts
Over-speeding constituted the main traffic rule violation associated with accident related deaths (69.3 per cent) and injuries (73.4 per cent), followed by driving on wrong side, drunken driving, use of mobile phone and jumping red light in 2020, the road transport ministry said in a report.
According to the report titled 'Road accidents in India -- 2020', more than 11 per cent of deaths and injuries were caused due to non-usage of seat belts, while 30.1 per cent of deaths and 26 per cent of injuries were caused due to non-usage of helmets in 2020.
It has said that the number of persons killed and injured due to not wearing of seat belt during 2020 stood at 15,146 and 39,102 respectively.
A total of 2,65,343 road accidents occurred in India during the calendar year 2020 due to over-speeding, causing 91,239 deaths, while 20,228 road accidents happened due to driving on wrong side, claiming 7,332 lives.
As per the report, drunken driving was responsible for 8,355 road accidents and 3,322 deaths, while 6,753 road accidents occurred due to use of mobile phone while driving, causing 2,917 deaths.
While the report had noted that violation of any traffic rule constitutes human error or driver's fault, it has said that from the perspective of road safety strategy, violations such as over-speeding and driving on wrong side does not constitute human error alone, but also possible fault in road design.
It had also claimed that the implementation of the Motor Vehicle Amendment Act(MVA) 2019, which became effective from September 1, 2019 contributed to reduce road accidents.
"The MVA Act 2019 included, inter-alia, provisions like stiff hike in penalties for traffic violations, electronic monitoring of the same, enhanced penalties for juvenile driving etc. and the implementation of the same has enabled achieving the desired impact," the report had said.
Although not wearing seat belts by passengers sitting in the rear seats attracts a fine of Rs 1,000 under Rule 138 (3) of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules (CMVR), most people are either unaware of this mandatory rule or just ignore them.
Even traffic policemen seldom fine passengers sitting on rear seats for not wearing seat belts.
Commenting on issues related to traffic rules violations, Institute of Road Traffic Education(IRTE) President Rohit Baluja said road traffic violations are infringements or transgression of regulations under the Motor Vehicles Driving Regulations, as well as the provisions of Motor Vehicles Act, Central and State Motor Vehicles Rules.
Baluja said studies conducted by IRTE have revealed that in Indian roadway conditions, a large percentage of violations are committed by drivers on account of faulty road environment, non-standard and faulty traffic control devices (signs, signals and markings).
He said as per studies carried out at IRTE, investigating officers of the police are generally not aware of the driving regulations and the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act/Rules, as they by-default book the drivers of the motor vehicles quoting the sections of the Indian Penal Code relating to over-speeding, rash and negligent driving.
National Road Safety Council member Kamal Soi claimed that less than one per cent drivers who are caught for over-speeding are penalised, while in case of drunk driving, it is even less than 0.5 per cent.
Fear of being caught is not there at all in Indian population, he said. According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, over 1.55 lakh lives were lost in road crashes across India in 2021 -- an average of 426 daily or 18 every single hour -- which is the highest death figures recorded in any calendar year so far.
SaveLIFE Foundation founder and CEO Piyush Tewari said the NCRB data revealed that traffic violations have become a routine occurrence in the country. "It is imperative that we mount a significant exercise to reduce speeding, especially on Indian highways and expressways, by ensuring effective and sustained enforcement," he added.
Tewari said driving at excessive speed attracts a fine of Rs 1,000-2,000 in case of light motor vehicles and Rs 2,000-4,000 in case of heavy motor vehicles under Section 183 of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment Act), 2019.
While driving by a drunken person or by a person under the influence of drugs attracts 6 months punishment or Rs 10,000 fine or both under section 185, in case of using a hand-held communication device while driving attracts imprisonment of six months to one year or a fine of Rs 1,000-5,000 or both.