India’s Road Accidents Killed More Cyclists And Pedestrians In 2017

Unsafe at any speed
Indian bikers
(Photo: Reuters)

More and more cyclists and pedestrians died on India's notoriously unsafe roads in 2017, mainly on account of a rise in the number of motor vehicles and an increase in the number of over speeding drivers.

Two-wheeled vehicles (bicycles, motorcycles, and scooters) accounted for seven in 10 of all motor vehicles in India in 2017.

The number of pedestrians killed in road accidents ballooned by 29.9 percent to 20,457 while the number of cyclists killed skyrocketed by 37.7 percent to 3,559. Taken together, pedestrians and cyclists accounted for 16.2% of the total fatalities in road accidents during 2017, according to the annual report on accidents released recently by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

The report also revealed that seven out of 10 two-wheeler and four-wheeler users that died in an accident didn't follow the mandatory requirement to wear helmets or use seat belts.

The ministry blamed the rise in overall road accidents on the rise in the total number of motor vehicles. It also pointed out that the increase in personalized means of transport such as bicycles and motorcycles, and a decrease in the number of mass public transport vehicles have had significant implications on safety and is worsening traffic congestion.

The ministry revealed that the total number of registered motor vehicles in India grew 9.9 percent during the 10-year period from 2006 and 2016. The number of two-wheelers, cars, and jeeps increased by 10.1 percent. Goods vehicles and buses increased by nine percent and 5.9 percent, respectively.

Two-wheelers accounted for 73.5 percent of all vehicles on Indian roads. Cars, jeeps, and taxis together comprised 13.1 percent of all vehicles. Other vehicles accounted for 8.1 percent;  goods vehicles, 4.6 percent and buses 0.8 percent.

The report cited four major causes of road deaths. Overspeeding was the main cause of traffic fatalities. It was responsible for almost seven in 10 (66.7 percent) of total deaths in road crashes.

Driving on the wrong side of the road claimed 6.4 percent of those killed. Drunken driving killed 3.2 percent while distracted driving, especially using mobile phones while driving, accounted for 2.1% of all road deaths.

In 2017, the total number of accidents throughout India fell 3.3 percent in 2017 to 464,000. The total number of lives lost in these crashes dipped 1.9% to 147,000 from 150,000 in 2016.

Since 2014, the number of pedestrians killed on Indian roads has jumped by 66 percent. Most pedestrian deaths occurred in Tamil Nadu (3,507 deaths) followed by Maharashtra (1,831) and Andhra Pradesh (1379). Close to 60 pedestrians are killed on India's roads every day.

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