Government minister Nitin Gadkari has called for a fifty percent reduction in the number of road accident deaths in India by 2025.
Gadkari, who serves as Minister for Road Transport and Highways in the Union Cabinet, highlighted that 415 people die on India’s roads every day. Speaking at the inauguration of the country’s first Road Safety Month, Gadkari pegged the death toll due to road traffic accidents at 1.5 lakh and the number of people injured at more than 4.5 lakh – as well as an economic loss 3.14 percent of gross domestic product annually. Gadkari added that, during a conference last year, the Centre had outlined plans to bring the number of road accident deaths in India to zero by 2030.
The minister pointed to Tamil Nadu, which has effected a 53 percent reduction in such fatalities. Health Issues India reported previously of Tamil Nadu’s efforts to crack down on road accident deaths in the state, which totalled at approximately 12,000 in 2018. Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami outlined a strategy “establishing multidisciplinary critical care facilities at government hospitals will form a core part of the state’s Accident and Emergency Care Initiative. These facilities will receive patients on arrival and provide a swift and expeditious assessment, categorising their condition according to severity.”
Tamil Nadu has won international acclaim for its approach. The World Bank has touted Tamil Nadu’s efforts, praising its strategy of “coordinated management of multi-sectoral interventions, bringing all key stakeholders to the table, and establishing a Road Safety Executive Leadership Group – responsible for decision making across the state. A Road Safety Management Cell supported the leadership to implement actions, review monthly road safety initiatives, statistics and targets at the district level while crash trends were reviewed monthly by no less than the state’s Director-General of Police.
“Interdepartmental coordination and standard operating procedures included teams of Police, Highways and Transport visiting every fatal crash site and reporting on causative factors, remedial and punitive measures within three days. This provided the recipe for sustained and holistic management of the road safety problem in the state.”
Other states have taken steps to ensure access to emergency care for those involved in incidents such as road traffic accidents. Delhi, for example, has previously mandated that forty percent of hospital beds in 300-bed facilities be marked for emergency and trauma care and rolled out schemes such as ‘ambulances on bikes’ to ensure timely delivery of emergency medical attention.
Addressing the danger on India’s roads is imperative for public health. “If we keep waiting till 2030, then at least six to lakh people will die more due to road accidents,” Gadkari said. He said Rs 14,000 crore will be earmarked for identify black spots more susceptible for accidents to happen. “The World Bank and ADB [Asian Development Bank] have given approval to two projects worth Rs7,000 crore each,” he outlined. “We are hopeful of getting approval from the finance ministry soon.”