This is one reality that doesn’t seem to surprise, but manages to shock simply because of the numbers involved.
Apparently, one is every 10 road deaths in the world and every sixth road crash across the globe happens in India. At least 14 people die on Indian roads every hour. And this, considering India has only one percent of the global vehicle population.
Road fatalities in India increased from 1.32 lakh in 2010 to 1.43 lakh in 2011. Despite India being a signatory to UN’s ‘Decade of Action’ program to reduce road deaths by 50% during this decade, it has not yet announced its plan to achieve the target.
Like I said, the fact that India should be the road kill capital of the world doesn’t surprise me but the staggering numbers involved are shocking.
For callous Indian authorities every death is perhaps one less person burdening the country. Because, for a country that is claiming economic progress by encouraging conspicuous consumption in the form of new cars flooding the roads every day, it doesn’t seem to correlate to the simultaneous need to develop its infrastructure, road safety norms, basic traffic rules, public awareness on road etiquette and a tighter leash on traffic authorities who are lax in enforcing the laws. How many of those who drive on Indian roads actually have valid driving licenses? Or for that matter, how many have even gone through any formal driving lessons?
Travel across Indian cities and towns and you wonder how anyone survives the traffic at all. It’s anarchy on the streets where the most persistent and loudest of honkers to those who literally bully their way through the traffic that get to go first. Lanes are non-existent as a concept; traffic lights are at best a sad joke; pot-holes, repair-ridden road diversions, illegal encroachers blocking entire portions of the roads are an integral part of the milieu.
Road rage is fashionable and the fancier the vehicle you drive, the more bullying rights are exerted on the roads and ironically, the fancier the car you drive, the more vulnerable you are to envious road rogues.
Roads in this country are apparently where every citizen exercises complete right of ownership, taking the idea of public property quite literally.