The union government is set to bring amendments to the three decades old Motor Vehicles Act, which has long outlived its utility, to make it more stringent and well suited to the present scenario. However, data pertaining to motor accidents across the country in 2015-16 throws some startling figures revealing the harsh reality of road mishaps.
The data presented by the Delhi-based PRS Legislative Research, a non- profit organisation, reveals that over five lakh accidents took place during 2015-16 wherein more than 1.46 lakh persons lost their lives and another five lakh sustained severe to minor injuries.
Incidentally, despite being a smaller state, Goa had the most number of accidents per lakh population which was five times higher than the national average of 40.
Southern state of Kerala had most number of injured persons in road accidents while Tamil Nadu had the maximum number of deaths per lakh population for the same financial year.
Northern states, however, fared better as per data with Punjab recording an average 23.2 accidents per lakh population, National Capital Delhi 39.1 while Haryana recording an average of 41.3 and the hill state of Himachal Pradesh an average of 42.8. Lowest accident average was recorded in northeastern states of Nagaland, Mizoram, etc.
More than 77,000 accidents out of these five lakh took place due to overloading of vehicles while more than 1.61 lakh accidents took place owing to bad weather. More than 98000 accidents were head on collisions between vehicles while over 57000 accidents were hit and run cases wherein the driver of the vehicle fled the accident sites. Majority of these accidents took place on National Highways compared to state highways and other roads. Of these total accidents, 9 per cent were caused by those drivers who did not have their driver's licence on them at the time of accident.
One of the interesting aspects as revealed by the data states that maximum number of accidents leading to fatalities and injuries took place in the urban areas as compared to rural areas and most of these accidents occurred during the morning and evening rush hours .Also, most of the persons who died in these accidents were between the age group of 18-34 years old.
It must be mentioned that earlier this month the Union Cabinet approved amendments in the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2016. The bill was first introduced in the Lok Sabha last year in August and was referred to the Departmental Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture. It is expected that the Bill will be presented for approval in the next Parliamentary session.
The proposed law specifically targets traffic offenders with stringent penal provisions and stricter penalties are proposed for high risk offences such as drunken driving, dangerous driving, overloading, non-adherence of safety norms by drivers.
However, experts say that the only thing lagging in the proposed Bill is that it doesn't address several key issues such as creating a robust network of road safety agencies and improving road design and engineering.