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What is the solution to India’s high accident rate?

October 20, 2008

Traffic problems aren’t something to take lightly anymore, not when we have been proclaimed as the nation with the most traffic accidents. Sample the statistics:

Here are some horrifying statistics about India: (Sources: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5] and [6]

  • Road accidents last year – more than 130,000 dead, set to increase to to jump to 150,000 (per annum) by 2015.
  • 10 percent of the (million-plus) fatal accidents in the world happen in India
  • India has just 1 percent of the world’s vehicles, but accounts for 10 percent of the world’s road accidents
  • We lose 3 percent of our GDP per annum due to road accidents
  • 70 percent of road accidents take away the main wage earner
  • Mortality rate per 10,000 vehicles is 14 (less than two for developed countries)
  • According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB, 2006 figures), Tamil Nadu (14 per cent of all accidents) and Maharashtra (12.4 per cent) have the maximum accidents in the country

These stats could frighten anyone wanting to visit India…but rest assured, fancy tourist buses and motor cars are least likely to be involved in accidents.

Who are the real victims?
Where cities are concerned, let us take the example of a metro like Chennai. The accident break-up (period of six months) goes like this:

  • 44 per cent of the total number of deaths – Two-wheeler riders and pillion riders, including cyclists
  • 34 percent of road deaths- Pedestrians

These are the victims and the killers are usually heavy vehicles, and although cars are involved, they are not the main culprits. Buses are serial killers, whether in the cities or on highways. But it is is not the fancy tourist buses which are guilty as they are manned by trained and responsible drivers.

If we take highway deaths across India, again the vehicles involved are trucks, dumpers and buses, although here it is those traveling in them who die. Overloaded buses are the worst affected, and kill dozens of people at a time. Like the bus crash in Assam a few days ago which killed 23 people and injured 40. In Assam, about 1600 people were killed in about 5,000 road accidents in 2007!

Courts and the police unable to act
India has one of the highest accident rates but one of the lowest conviction rates of errant drivers, which can sink lower than 10 percent. This happens because of court delays (giving witnesses/accused a chance to disappear and in high profile cases, turn hostile) and light punishment for those held guilty. For example, drunk drivers get a six month prison sentence or a fine of Rs 2000/- but hardly anyone ever goes to prison. Also, as we do not rely on forensic or scientific investigation to prove guilt, the offender walks free.

A comparison with the West
A traffic offense in developed countries could mean your license being impounded for life. Insurance companies also act tough. Insurance premiums triple for those who have been involved in a serious traffic offense. The more accidents you are involved in, the more your premium increases. In India we do not even have a national database to record all accidents so we cannot know a person’s accident history.

Rash drivers in the US can be charged with misdemeanor (one year jail term), felony charges, vehicular manslaughter and vehicular homicide. These crimes carry severe punishment and it gets progressively more severe with each offense. If a driver kills, the license is taken away and the driver can be banned from driving in that country.

How is our government tackling the road accident problem?
The government is planning to make safety features on cars and speed governors compulsory on heavy vehicles (besides other measures), but how will this work? Safety features on cars will bring down car deaths but what about people travelling in buses? And it is very easy to “fix” speed governers, specially as they drivers know they aren’t going to be checked.

The root of the problem is the rot in the the RTO’s (Road Transport Organisations). Let’s crack down on them first.

To cut fatalities drastically, start with the highway drivers
Disciplining city drivers is wonderful, but there needs to be an equal emphasis on the highway drivers.  Monitoring them is tough however, because of a shortage of traffic cops. Why, even the high profile  mumbai-pune expressway doesn’t have any! But if we cannot have the cops, the only answer is trained drivers. An obvious solution to anyone living in a developed country, but in India it isn’t that obvious! It’s criminal that truck and bus drivers are not properly trained (licenses are given out without proper tests) and often drive under the influence of liquor.

Attitude problems
This needs fixing too. Better roads and better trained drivers are fine, but it’s time to fix the attitude problem of our populace. Safe drivers are supposedly not “cool” enough and are considered timid. Breaking traffic rules is considered daring, particularly going beyond the legal speed limit. Education is certainly not the solution as educated drivers seem to be bolder! This attitude that obeying traffic rules is for sissies has to go…

The uneasy feeling one gets is that these road accident figures do not reflect the reality. You and me know that there are more accidents than those reported.

But now that India that India has been officially stamped as a country with the most road accidents, one hopes that drastic measures are taken to fix the problem. Whether it is improving the roads, getting rid of badly maintained vehicles, penalizing inept and drunken drivers, attacking corruption and developing a civilized traffic culture – we need to get there fast.  Corruption is the main issue. Considering that by 2020 road deaths will become the number three killer, behind heart disease, suicide, and perhaps even Aids, it’s time to do.

We can start with ourselves. I’ve broken a traffic light once or twice in the past although I would never do a thing like that now. What about you? Try this poll.

(Photograph is copyrighted to me)

Related Reading: Jail works as a deterrent to stop traffic offenders
How much blood alcohol are you allowed in different countries of the world? A comparison
Traffic and safety problems on the Mumbai Pune Expressway
Isn’t helping accident victims our duty as citizens?
Drunk Driving is a major cause of road accidents in India
Shortage of policemen in India – a comparison with the world
Comparison of the conviction rates of a few countries of the world
Indore has the coolest and the best city bus service
Is BRT (Bus Rapid Transport) working in India?

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51 Comments leave one →
  1. October 20, 2008 7:44 am

    the stats are quite unbelievable .. I knew that accidents are more in india but this much is shocking ..
    accidents are something that no one does intentionally ..its just that they are so negligent while driving it happens.. and its not just on the drivers part but also the pedastrians ,cyclist ,anyone related with the accident ..

    low conviction rates could be one of the major problems. …
    start stripping the licenses and i guess public will be more attentive …

  2. October 20, 2008 8:28 am

    I find your post to be insightful and I am thinking that your post could act as a wake-up alarm and help people take a proactive step towards minimizing the accidents happening in our daily life. I am wondering if one of the root cause of the problem is our inability to pay attention to the smaller details around us and our excuse in such cases may be that we are engaged in activities that need more attention.

  3. October 20, 2008 8:40 am

    Traffic accidents can be minimised
    *if we plan our journey and start early.Driving in a hurry leads to accidents
    *if people driving the vehicles bear in mind that driving is not an adventure sports
    *if you keep your vehicle road worthy

  4. hoku permalink
    October 20, 2008 10:53 am

    1. Separate lane for cyclist and two wheelers.
    2. Enforcing Lane driving for Buses and other heavy vehicles.
    3. Enhancing capacity of Public Transport System.
    4. Willingness to enforce rule of law.

  5. chirax permalink
    October 20, 2008 10:58 am

    Nita, the main problem now is not the implementation of the traffic laws any one from Bangalore/ Delhi etc will tell you Traffic cops actually work and its hard to bribe them. So that problem is getting better.

    We have to reduce the amount of traffics on the street iff there is a respectable mode of public transport, for instance if we have metros connecting the major work areas I am sure most of us will prefer that over driving ourselves saves petrol and hassle.

    Improvements in the public transport systems
    Car Pooling – People should really look at this alternative
    Equip police with better enforcement of laws

  6. October 20, 2008 11:14 am

    @ Nita

    The licence – or its withdrawal – might matter if people actually had to go for driving tests to get them. And that will only work if the tests were genuinely given and beyond corruption. That to me is problem number 1. Many people have no idea if we have any road rules at all, leave alone their following them.

    Our general impunity as a society is the next big one.

    Where, for instance, are the numbers which show how many killer accidents involve unlicensed or unauthorised drivers? When I was 11, I had an accident which gave me about 80 stitches and the scooter was being driven by a boy who did not have a licence and did not know what to do with the vehicle which he was driving at a great speed unsuited to a residential area.

    As for “This happens because of court delays (giving witnesses/accused a chance to disappear and in high profile cases, turn hostile) and light punishment for those held guilty”, I think the biggest reason is that the police harasses those rare people who report an accident. Most people just rubber-neck and go. In the UK, it is an offence to leave the site of an accident if you are involved and you must turn up in court if you were a witness or you are held in contempt. Laws, in other words, are only as good as the enforcement (also relates to last point).

    I do not think an RTO crackdown will work as long as people turn up there saying ‘do you know who I am?’. This is one of those things that – like the dowry or female foeticide issues – needs societal attitudinal overhaul. Else we can ‘enjoy’ the superlative for years to come… :-/

  7. hoku permalink
    October 20, 2008 11:42 am

    chirax@ I don’t know about Bangalore, but in Delhi Traffic Cops are not that honest as you think. For example, all chartered buses need to pay Rs. 100 per Police Chowki. First week of every month one plain cloth policeman would collect it from the chartered buses. This is true for Blueline buses as well.

  8. October 20, 2008 12:07 pm

    Culprit # 1: Attitude Problem
    Giving two hooks about traffic…. Honestly speaking people just don’t care about traffic rules.

    2-wheeler drivers think they are Valentino Rossi.. and pot-holed roads is a motoGP track… No helmet, No indicators, full use of horn…

    4-wheeler drivers think they are Lewis Hamilton.. No seat belts, No Indicators, Switch lanes as they wish… the Red light is for “GO”!!
    AND
    Pedestrians think they own the road.. They would walk where they wish.. crossing road talking on their cellphones and Please! Green is for the vehicles.. not for you!! and the saddest part is.. I have seen this performed by seemingly educated, brand wearing youth.. and not by a dhoti-clad villagers who would be unaware of traffic rules..

    Culprit # 2: Money hai toh Honey hai
    People KNOW they can get away, ALWAYS.. no matter how many HONEST policeman are posted, people know they can PAY EXTRA and drive away merrily… Nothing can be done about it… apologies for my pessimism but cant help it!

    Traffic will increase with time and development.. there is no way we can stop that.. The only way to hope for a minute change is development of public transport.. that can only encourage people to leave their wheels at home and less clutter at roads..

    Amen!!!

  9. October 20, 2008 12:23 pm

    Nita:
    Very interesting post, though I don’t know if 1 trillion is our GDP or the loss from accidents, probably the former. There is another small error nearby with two ‘to’s together.
    I am very impressed with the concept of privatising roadways, though you would be impressed with state-run ones in the developed countries. In certain countries, the State is letting private companies take care of roads for a period of say twenty years on contract basis.
    Another strong reason for the high death rates following RTAs is that we don’t have adequate (a very kind word, let me tell you) trauma care facilities. By the time you reach a hospital, you would likely be a dead ringer!

  10. vivekmittal permalink
    October 20, 2008 12:27 pm

    Traffic rules have become a mode of earning for the traffic police :) that is the biggest problem

  11. October 20, 2008 12:37 pm

    @ Nita : Thanks for writing on this. It is a subject that I have written on in the past and I feel strongly about. Although you have covered most of the important points but you have missed the corruption in licensing. I believe it is there that this problem needs to be addressed. I think city by city, state by state we need to cancel all existing drivers licenses and re-examine all existing license holders. It needs to be done a by a special agency just set up for this task. Anyone who fails their drivers test or does not know the basics needs to retake their test until they can clear it. Driving is not a right, it is a privilege. It will take time but eventually it will pay off. While this is being done the government also drastically needs to improve public transport in this country so that less people actually need to drive. I think the license reissuing has to start with commercial drivers at its first place. If indeed as you have pointed out India loses $ 1 Trillion to traffic accidents the cost of doing it will be paid recovered.

    I also think the fines and the price of acquiring a license in India is a problem. Fines need to be more stringent. There is a system in place in India but it is just that the laws are not applied. It is basically an administrative failure. Corruption in the police is another issue. Everyone knows they can get away by paying just a couple of rupees. I am sure solving this is going to be far more harder. However it is my belief that if you start revoking licenses and start reissuing them after better screening things will start looking up. We just have to assume that most licenses issued in this country are issued without any scrutiny.

  12. October 20, 2008 1:13 pm

    Arvind, about the intention, well to my mind if one is negligent, it’s near to intention. If someone doesn’t care if he/she kills someone, then to my mind it should be treated as intention. Otherwise how else to make people more careful?

    Nandu, thanks. I sincerely hope that people can be influenced by this post.

    Old Sailor, your tips are indeed spot on!

    Hoku, enforcing rule of law as you said…that’s the main thing. In Pune there is one road which has a separate lane for cyclists and two wheelers but the two wheeler riders don’t use it!

    Chirax, in Mumbai the traffic cops are extremely corrupt, exceptions are there however. About the other points, yes we need all that badly.

    Shefaly, true. Recently they caught someone who had 21 fake licenses!! And yes it is true, there is harrassment of witnesses of accidents. We too should have a law which makes it an offense to leave the accident site! But people here will hold protest marches against such a law and burn a few buses to boot! As for the RTO crackdown, well, the govt. should try at least. Over here in Mumbai when the drunken driving enforcement started there were plenty of people saying exactly that, but it didn’t help in all cases.

    Rashmi, yes there is a huge attitude problem. Just the other day someone was boasting about he made it to Pune from Mumbai in 2 hours flat, which is impossible unless you break all speed limits. What’s irritating that this person thinks we are idiots for driving within the speed limit!

    Rambodoc, yes it’s India’s GDP, not the losses, but the sentence was confusing so I deleted it.
    And why should you think that I would prefer state run roadways? I do not think in black and white. I do not think like is like that. Unfortunately in India private contractors in roadways (in Mumbai) have been bribing corporators and using sub standard material. The state is equally corrupt I am sure…so I cannot say which I prefer. And what you said about the trauma care is bang on! That and the lack of proper ambulance facilities.

    Vivek M, I agree with you there. They come out like locusts when festivals near.

    Odzer, you are welcome. However, corruption in issuing of licenses I have said is the main problem, sorry if that wasn’t clear. Quoting from my text:

    The root of the problem is the rot in the the RTO’s (Road Transport Organisations). Let’s crack down on them first.

    and also

    It’s criminal that truck and bus drivers are not properly trained (licenses are given out without proper tests) and often drive under the influence of liquor.

    And I think yours is a wonderful idea about cancelling of all licenses! I love it! It’s like when there is too much black money in the economy, you cancel all the big notes!

  13. October 20, 2008 1:59 pm

    Nita, the numbers are indeed shocking!

    Strange enough, I did not notice that many accidents during all my Indian trips. Instead, I face many here in Austria (people driving over 150-200 km/h on highway).

    But you are right, the laws are much strickter in the West and basically people try to follow them.

    One more note on traffic rules: in Austria it is very common and actually “inofficially” allowed to break the traffic light for a pedestrian if there is no car coming. Sure, one can not compare to India, where traffic is so hight, but in Austria there is simply not that much traffic and people do not want to wait till the green if there is no car around…

  14. compulsivewriter permalink
    October 20, 2008 2:11 pm

    …the statistics are startling. but then with so many cars on the road and ease of acquiring a license ( in Mumbai u can get one without giving a driving test even!) what else can we expect. Situation might just get worse when the nano comes. Besides, the worse accidents happen on highways. Lack of disicpline gets magnified when u r at a high speed on a fast moving road.
    We all should give our driving licenses a hard look. ‘Driving is a privilege not a right’.

  15. Vinod permalink
    October 20, 2008 2:40 pm

    In Singapore, it takes

    (i) 6-7 months for a working adult to get his driving license (plus Singapore Dollar 1500 in total) attending 2 classes (1hr 40 min each) per weekend without failing in any of them (which is rare) and without failing in the first driving test attempt (which is also rare)

    (ii) 4 months for a working adult to get his riding license (plus SGD 900) attending 2 classes (1hr each) per weekend without failing in any of the classes (which is rare) and without failing in the first riding test attempt (which is also rare).

    If I’m right, in Bangalore it takes

    (i) one morning jog and an evening jog across the licensing office plus Rs 1000 to get either a driving license or a riding license or both.

  16. Vinod permalink
    October 20, 2008 3:04 pm

    In Singapore,

    During a riding test
    (i) if a motor cyclist keeps his/her right foot down on the ground even once, even if it be for balance, he is immediately failed and s/he has to retake the test. The time gap between each test is 4 months.
    The point is that the right leg should always be ready in the break at all times.

    During a driving test
    (i) If the speed limit of the road is crossed even once, it is a case of immediate failure and s/he has to retake the test

    (ii) 2 contacts with the kerb during parallel parking or vertical parking will lead to a failure of the test

    Just giving a taste of the difficulties of getting a license in Singapore.

  17. Vipul permalink
    October 20, 2008 3:35 pm

    “44% of deaths are on two-wheelers” – The Nano could help here I guess …

  18. hoku permalink
    October 20, 2008 4:41 pm

    Private mode of transport in long run is unsustainable. It may be good for companies like Tata, Suzuki or GM, but its bad for economy, environment and safety. MRTS or at least Public Transport Systems is the only sustainable and safe alternative.

  19. October 20, 2008 5:11 pm

    The stats were quite intriguing… I never knew they were so high… But apart from widening roads, I don’t know what else would work…

  20. October 20, 2008 5:50 pm

    @ Nikhil:

    The evidence from the countries with better highways and roads suggests that building more roads does not ease traffic congestion; it just brings more cars/ vehicles on the road.

    Tata’s Nano, which @Vipul above seems hopeful about, is exactly the worst kind of thing for our ill-kept roads (think of the potholes at the junction of Brigade and MG Roads; they were there when I lived in BLR, they are there now and the vehicles are probably 10-fold).

  21. wishtobeanon permalink
    October 20, 2008 6:06 pm

    Nice post, Nita. Thanks.

  22. chirax permalink
    October 20, 2008 6:18 pm

    @hoku: Yep I think I over estimated the sincerity as I was once only helped by a Delhi Policemen and I was quite taken aback.

    @Nita : Full Votes to : The root of the problem is the rot in the the RTO’s (Road Transport Organisations). Let’s crack down on them first.

  23. Vipul permalink
    October 20, 2008 6:28 pm

    @Shefaly – Road congestion and Traffic accident rates (this topic) are not necessarily correlated. I was not too committal on my Nano remark in terms of providing benefits – but definitely dont see it as harming the situation (accident rates that is).

  24. wishtobeanon permalink
    October 20, 2008 7:01 pm

    Given the large number of pedestrians in India, sidewalks (footpaths) should be built and maintained for most streets and the roads should be widened. I am specially concerned about the kids who have to use the unsafe roads to go to school.

  25. October 20, 2008 7:58 pm

    1] Use of CCTVs on important junctions and on highways

    2] Strict actions against voilations can bring lots of discipline.

    CCTV donot costs much & it can be multipurpose device as well.

    As of now I think that’s the best solution.

  26. October 20, 2008 8:20 pm

    well i saw about 5 people smoking today,who told there is a ban?As you pointed out it is the attitude problem,we can never make people realize what they are doing is stupid…and here it lives…

  27. hoku permalink
    October 20, 2008 8:21 pm

    RTO’s are corrupt because we go and bribe them.
    Police is corrupt because after a crime we ask them ‘kitenme banega?’
    Bharath@
    Even if you put up CCTV every where, there has to be a person behind it to take note of the crime and to prosecute.

  28. October 20, 2008 9:05 pm

    If you ask Union Minister Anbumani Ramadoss, he will solve this problem by banning everyone from driving.
    On a serious note, I have to say it is the 2 main things about the driver – Training and Attitude. Even a well trained driver can prefer to drive like a maniac depending on his/her mood. With regards to driving, if people do not drive responsibly then there is no way to prevent accidents. Basically, if they are willing to apply some common sense while driving, we can reduce the accidents easily. One can easily blame the rules, cops and a corrupt system, but if you are not a safe driver, none of those rules matter. This is why in spite of all these rules and regulations in US, there are still accidents happening here.

  29. October 20, 2008 10:04 pm

    Axinia, your trips to India are far too short! You should stay longer and you will see all the accidents! And so in Austria, they do break lights huh. Here what they do is switch off the lights on Sundays because they know no one will follow them!

    compulsivewriter, the only reasons we don’t have so many fatalities in the cities is because the traffic is slow. So let us look at it positively, the Nano will slow the traffic and so there will be fewer accidents! :)

    Vinod, thanks a lot for that information. I am thinking, I will never be able to get a license in Singapore! :) Well, at least not at first go!

    Vipul, I guess you mean that it’s the car which will get bashed up, and not the people! :)

    Hoku, I agree. our country has woken up to it, but too late!

    Nikhil, Shefaly has addressed your comment and I tend to agree with her.

    Shefaly, I wanted to add one more thing…that experience of yours as a child seems horrific! 80 stitches! The parents of the kids who are allowed to drive should go to jail if not the kids. There was some discussion about that here, but no one agreed to it!

    wishtobeanon, thanks. We are not a pedestrian friendly country, we are hawker friendly!

    Bharat, cctv’s will certainly help but I think there is the problem of will to do, like Hoku mentioned. I think apathy is the name of the game.

    Vishesh, yeah people love to break the law don’t they!!

    Dinesh Babu, you’ve summed it well…get the training and get rid of the attitude!
    But you know I am wondering about the results of the poll above. There are actually people who have said they never break traffic rules. Does such a person exist in India I wonder.

  30. October 20, 2008 10:15 pm

    I was planning to write a post on my daily struggle to reach college…a railway crossing, a national highway etc. This post has inspired me to write it soon.
    There are just traffic police standing and a huge truck breaks red light at peak hour of 10 am!!! Not even a whistle comes from the police. The tendency to disobey rules is dependent on opportunity. And by looking at kids walking or cycling on roads nowadays, I feel parents and schools have stopped teaching that in India we walk & drive on left side and we must look on both sides before crossing!!! I remember my father taking a traffic rules class at home before I rode a cycle for first time.
    Your post reminded me of this video. Check it out.
    http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=RjrEQaG5jPM

  31. October 20, 2008 10:19 pm

    @ Nita : Oh I am sorry, I must have skip read it. I do that often. Sorry Sorry Sorry!

  32. October 20, 2008 10:23 pm

    Oh my comment has gone into moderation. Please rescue it. :(

  33. October 21, 2008 7:16 am

    I am afraid that the outlook for safe travel in India is more gloom and doom. There just seem to be too many vested interests at every level to make things work out. See in India, it matters little if the Union government ‘recognizes’ a problem, the record on implementing anything is poor. A lot of this is because the suggested measures are so outlandish and ambitious that implementing them is almost an impossibility. The arms of the Indian state are either impotent due to neglect or decayed due to corruption.

  34. October 21, 2008 9:17 am

    Many times I have stopped at red light and the idiot behind me will be honking so hard. I think the people need some tweaking, its hard to change them, but a good law enforcer could do it.

    The policemen never care about how people break laws when driving, they are only bothered about catching people who forgot their licence or outstation vehicles etc. NEVER bothered about a reckless driver, cutting red light etc.

    Also in many cases when an accident occur, the car owner is blamed and the police take the side where he could get some money.

  35. October 21, 2008 9:31 am

    @Hoku

    There are intelligent CCTV systems available which tracks vehicles crossing yellow line, vehicles speeding above limit & Vehicles jumping signal before it goes green.. then it automatically identifies number plate… then who is the owner… then owner’s house address… and then it sends ticket @ home :)

    and again if owner doesnot pays fine in time then it gets owner’s bank account number & deducts amount automatically :))

    I had been to Bangalore’s Zicom CCTV control room last week.. & I tell you they are still using very old technology.. their CCTVs are just recording devices

  36. hoku permalink
    October 21, 2008 9:57 am

    Bharath@ sorry. I did not know every driver/owner has a email in India so that the ticket can automatically delivered at home.
    BTW what happens if the driver does not have enough deposit in the bank account. Does the CCTV takes out its robotic arm and impounds the Driving license. :-D

  37. October 21, 2008 10:22 am

    @Hoku

    Every vehicle owner has address.. Now indian RTO does mantain history. If there is no balance in account then their credit history with RTO goes.. and just hope someday that driver will be cought.

    I saw a demo with RTO in Bangalore having a GPRS device grabbing history of vehicle on the spot.

    Visit UK/USA and try to speed up your vehicle above limt.. you will recive ticket before you arrive @home to see it’s working. ;)

  38. hoku permalink
    October 21, 2008 1:53 pm

    Bharath@ I have never been at UK/USA, so no first hand experience. But I do believe that ticket would reach my home. I believe that because, I believe that an honest person is their to note down my offense and to dispatch it to my address.

  39. October 22, 2008 9:31 am

    Reema, looking forward to the post. I always enjoy slice of life posts.

    Odzer, don’t worry, happens to the best of us. In fact I always try to write my post in such a way (with sub-heads) so that people can indeed skip a few lines because I know people are busy. I want them to grasp the post without reading every word so I take it as my failure for not emphasizing that point the way I wanted to.

    Vikram, things are improving and I have faith they will improve further.

    Xylene, me too have that experience. People think that those who follow rules are idiots!

  40. Vinod permalink
    October 22, 2008 10:03 am

    @Nita
    Vikram, things are improving and I have faith they will improve further.

    Unlike a decade or so back, I have found many Indians now sharing the same optimism as you. I do find the Indians who left India a decade back, still holding onto the same cynicism about India.
    One of the reasons given to me for this optimism is the message of the movie – Rang De Basanti. That moved something in most Indians – atleast that is what I hear. Besides the movie, there are many positive developments in India that do come in the news more often these days.

  41. Joss permalink
    October 23, 2008 3:45 pm

    In Britain we too have been reading about the state of India’s roads. But I was still shocked by your statistics. I remember travelling in India 20 years ago and seeing a wrecked truck by the side of the highway, about every mile of the way from Mumbai to Rajasthan. That was bad enough, but with more vehicles on the road now it is not surprising that things seem to have got even worse. Thank you for pointing out that it is not usually tourist buses that are involved in road traffic accidents. Even though your tone seemed slightly sardonic I still found it reassuring to read this. I want to take my family to India one day …

  42. December 27, 2008 2:58 am

    Nita: Awesome post; these stats were just what I was looking for. I was thinking of starting a website where people could post images using camera phones of traffic violations in India and blatant disregard of these violations by cops. I’d love to hear thoughts on this.

    Bharath: Sorry to burst your bubble my friend, but I’ve lived in the US for 10 years, and I can assure you that you do not always get ticketed by a camera – this is a rare exception, not the norm. Very few places in the US have cameras for ticketing.

    I recently moved back to India and can, without a second thought, say the traffic situation has gone from bad to atrocious. I don’t know about you, but I like to take a walk once in a while and after spending a month here… and getting hit twice, I called it quits! More affluent portions of society demand bigger, better roads; well, we certainly have bigger, better roads now… just no way to cross them without gambling your life away.

    Enough of my ranting. Again, I’d be very excited to hear what people have to say about the website suggestion.

  43. zid permalink
    December 28, 2008 2:35 am

    Not very surprising statistics, i must say, thankfully, most of the friends i know have safely managed to stay out of the “counted population”. My personal opinion of the problem is this:
    1) road encroachment by vendors: they reduce the effective width of the road by 50%. Everytime the state government starts a drive to clean up, politicians step in to save them for vote bank. Is all politics, i say!
    2)Attitude. The main objective of every driver unleashed out on the roads, is to get ahead of the person in-front of them. That way they are assured of a goal all throughout their journey, or till they crash, whichever happens earlier :-). This results in excessive speeding, for no reason other then setting up some personal small scale competitive exercise and victory. How silly.

  44. GaryG permalink
    May 30, 2009 2:30 am

    Hello Nita,
    I am from Canada and had the very great pleasure of visiting your country last month. I travelled around Delhi, from Delhi to Nainital area and then to Haridwar and back to Delhi. My friends in India told me I should not drive in India so we hired a car and driver. I quickly found why my friends gave me this advice. I was amazed at the traffic and driving. Our driver, Zakir, was an exceptional driver. Even my wife, who is a nervous passenger, was relaxed with Zakir’s driving.

    While there, my friends gave me what I thought was a very humorous article entitled ‘Rules of the Road in India’ (author unknown). It mentions how dangerous the driving is in India. I was about to send it to a few of my friends but I was going to explain that my experience did not support this dangerous driving claim. I saw very few accidents and was impressed with the overall driving skills, even though they were very different from what I am used to in Canada. But I thought I would check India’s accident rate and Google brought me to your blog. Thank you for your information. Unfortunately, my humorous article is no longer as humorous as I thought.

    If you would like a copy of the article, send me your email address and I will forward it.

  45. Mukund Thakar permalink
    May 15, 2011 5:56 pm

    In india death ratio of accidental death is very high in comparision to other country because there is implimentation of Trafic rules. Vehical drivers are not following driving and parking rules. Anybody who not properly drive the vehical can get driving licence from RTO. some money works there. No officer of RTO or Trafic police are performing their duty properly and strictly. They only interested how they can earn some extra money. They mostly looking for people who breaks minor rules in city area. But sinsearly not looking for major cases.

  46. Jeet permalink
    August 13, 2012 5:03 pm

    Hi,
    Really help full tips.
    What happens if some one was involved in moter bike accident, and pessanger died.
    And he left the country and now want to visit back. He had no licence as well.
    Coz my friend was involved in the same it happend in 2003 was on bail and decided to go abroad and study. he never heard any thing ever since?
    What can happen if he goes back ??

    • August 13, 2012 8:16 pm

      Depends on the country. If it is a country which the law is strong, he will be arrested the moment he tries to enter the country. Everything is computerized there.

  47. Jeet permalink
    August 14, 2012 5:33 am

    thank you for the reply, as u said it depends from county to country and might get arrested.
    What about india.
    What happens if you were involved in accident and in 2003 out on bail, left india in 2007 & now going back to visit.
    And if u were out on bail, and never heard any thing back ever and when he left inida he did police clearance and even after coming over seas he did police clearance and how he got his
    residency over seas.

    And want to go back india and visit family ??
    What whould happen?

    • August 14, 2012 8:37 am

      Jeet, it’s all about luck isn’t it! This person has lucked out because of the inefficient police force. If he wants to take that chance he can, but as a law-abiding citizen he should give himself up.

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  1. A Wide Angle View of India : Foo Thoughts
  2. Road Rash in Real Life « My Random Thoughts

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