Law commission Report: Legal reforms to combat road accidents

Law Commission Report: More than 100,000 Indians are dying every year in road accidents.More than a million are injured or maimed. Many years ago, a study found that road accidents cost the country some Rs. 550 billion every year.


1.3 According to ‘Down To Earth’ (Science and Environment Online),ill-planned motorization kills one person every six minutes on India’s roads. Road accidents in 1999-2000 cost India about 3 per cent of its GDP. During 1970-2005, registered motor vehicles increased 50 times, but road networks grew less than three times. Accidents increased fourfold; injuries and fatalities also shot up more than six times.

Severity of accidents – persons killed per 100 accidents – increased due to lack of footpaths, cycle tracks and traffic measures to check speed where motorized merges with non-motorized. In 2005, there were 439,255 road accidents – 1,205 accidents daily – which killed about 95,000 people; injuring more than 465,282. National and State Highways account for 5.8 per cent of the total road length, but account for 50 per cent of the total accidents.

Other roads, with 94.2 per cent of the total road length, witnessed 46.8 per cent of the total accidents. Bulk transport vehicles (buses, trucks) make up 7.5 per cent of all registered vehicles, but caused 30 per cent of the accidents; about 38 per cent of deaths.

1.4 The Pioneer has reported that the number of fatalities on Indian roads in 2006-07 increased to 1,05,749. India’s share in world fatalities is increasing. So far, China topped the list of most number of fatal road accidents and India finished a close second. However, the latest statistics show that while China has managed to decrease its fatalities, India has not learnt much. The total road length of India is about 12 per cent of the total world road network, but India’s percentage in road injury is 5.4 per cent of the world total.

1.5 According to the Indian Express, road accidents increased in the country by 4.9 per cent from 2005 to 2006 and 20 per cent of the road accidents were fatal – there was one fatality per 4.4 road accidents.

1.6 A recent survey by the Central Road Research Institute reveals that more than 90% pedestrians feel unsafe while crossing roads, while they comprise more than 50% of road victims.

Is it due to lack of apt provisions in our law that travel through Indian roads is a tryst with Death? This crucial question has been engaging the attention of the Law Commission of India for quite some time.

1.8 All the more so because despite the directions of the Supreme Court given to the Police and all other authorities entrusted with the
administration and enforcement of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and generally with the control of the traffic8 and the Delhi High Court’s
Order dated 10.07.07 in WP (Crl) 878/2007 (to be numbered by the Registry) in regard to traffic safety, reckless driving by the blue line
buses on Delhi roads has not diminished.

1.9 The Navbharat Times has reported that in the Annual Press Conference of Delhi Police, it was revealed that 8,270 road accidents
were recorded in 2007, in which 2,050 persons died. There were 376 road accidents involving blue line buses in which 118 persons died. The
notable feature was that 38 per cent were hit and run cases wherein the vehicles involved could not be traced. Another notable feature was that 53 per cent of the persons who died in road accidents were pedestrians and 28 per cent were two-wheeler drivers. 3.98 million challans were issued for various traffic violations, for which Rs. 980 million were recovered.

1.10 Driving recklessly/dangerously, non-observance of traffic rules, like crossing speed limit, jumping red light, driving without driving licence, driving by untrained/disqualified driver, driving by minor, driving under the influence of liquor, driving while talking on mobile, driving without helmet, ill-health of vehicle and bad road infrastructure are amongst the causes of road accidents.

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