Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has admitted that his ministry's inability to reduce number of road accidents and deaths across the country has been one of the biggest failures in last five years.
Speaking at the Mint Idea Investment Summit and Awards in Mumbai on Thursday, Gadkari said that despite a minor dip in numbers, the situation remains grim.
India ranks right on top when it comes to the number of road accident deaths across 199 countries reported in the World Road Statistics, 2018 followed by China and US. As per the WHO Global Report on Road Safety 2018, India alone accounts for almost 11% of deaths due to accidents across the world.
Gadkari said, “Presently the situation is very bad. We are facing 5 lakh accidents and 1.5 lakh deaths (every year). For the first time, in the last 3 months, the percentage of accidents and deaths have decreased. Everything is very good in my department. But one of the great failures, in the last 5 years, is that we failed in reducing number of accidents and deaths. We are losing 2% of our GDP because of these accidents."
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According to the Road Accidents in India 2018 report as many as 467,044 road accidents took place across the country, roughly 53 every hour. As many as 151,417 people, 17 every hour, were killed in these accidents and nearly 5 lakh were injured.
Gadkari emphasised the need to increase number of national highways as one of the ways to curtail the number in future. He said, “In our country, we have 52 lakh km of road length, out of which only 96,000 km was national highway. 40% of the traffic of the country was on 2% of the roads. We have decided to increase the length of national highways to 2 lakh kms. I am confident that in the next 5 years 80% of our traffic will be on highways."
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National highways, which constitute 1.94% of India’s road network, accounted for 30.2% of road accidents and 35.7% of deaths reported in 2018. The national highways alone claim one life a year for every two kilometres. This is ten times higher than the developed country threshold.
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State highways, which account for 2.97% of the country’s road length, accounted for 25.2% of accidents and 26.8% of deaths reported. A third of the road-accident deaths reported were in urban areas, which accounted for 41% of all reported accidents, while two-thirds were in rural areas. About 85% of the accident related deaths happen in the most productive age group of 18-60.