India’s road death toll

Over the weekend I received some seriously bad news. My cousin died in a road accident. A lorry collided with a motorbike he was travelling on as a passenger.Having just returned from my South India holiday I saw for myself the terrible situation on the roads. Clearly something has to be done. The death toll continues rise and be ignored.There are so many questions that rise for the core issue:What are some of the causes of all this chaos?1. Is it the lack of respect for life in India?
2. Are people in too much of a hurry that patience is lost to graciousness and courtesy?
3. One hears of licenses that are purchased rather than awarded on competence. Is this true? Our driver in South India was self taught?
4. There is no uniformity in the Highway Code – What Highway Code?
5. Anything with wheels is deemed legal for the road? – This is wrong – who is checking anyway?!
6. The transportation industry for goods shipment needs a serious review – Have you ever witnessed oversized / overweight lorries.
I could go on but if you look at a typical highway or roadway, every conceivable vehicle is permitted to travel. This includes animals of all sorts too.

One could argue that it is all very well for someone like me to be critical, as I live in a clinical existence. However, with all the progress that India professes I am alarmed at the attitude of drivers every time I go there. Whilst heading back into Bangalore from Salem, National Highway 7, known as NH7 is an impressive (in parts) road. At some locations there are some petrol stations that have wonderfully morphed into motorway service stations. These are far apart and sometimes one gets the feeling that a highway simply sliced through a town centre. This raises the question of whether any serious planning took place.

I want to suggest some solutions but where do I start. Again, one could argue that many say that ‘the system’ can be overridden if you know ‘the system’. The implication here is that money talks. Many suggest that the traffic situation can never be resolved. Here are some suggestions:

* Stricter fines
* Consistent traffic signs and road markings
* Independent checking / auditing of suppliers of tar used to construct roads
* More police
* A traffic light system
* Banning of certain vehicles
* Weighing stations to ensure correct loading
* Medical checks on drivers
* Strict no drink drive rules

According to BBC statistics (Sep 2005) in India 1 person dies every 6 minutes and 10 are injured in the same time frame. There is a desperate need to reform the Highway code or sense of traffic in India. With its hundreds and thousands of graduates why can we not channel some of their energies towards a cure?

No one can bring back a lost loved one and at this moment my heart and mind goes out to those that have lost their lives on the road…

Categories: 2007, Corporate Responsibility, Ethics, Justice

3 replies

  1. Dr. Savi,
    Some very nice points you have brought out in your blog. With such a concern as you, I established a website called I am not sure how a change can be made, but I suppose every little drop can help in the catalysis. Do let me know if you would like to work towards making a change in the traffic situation in India. If you send me an email, we could possibly correspond directly.

    I did read in your blog “One could argue that it is all very well for someone like me to be critical, as I live in a clinical existence.” – so where do you live?. I live in the Washington DC metro in USA.

  2. Hi

    I think one major reason is our selfish approach. We, Indians have become so self-oriented that it shows on the road when we drive rashly.

    If we follow the ants way of traffic, things would be a lot easier.

    You are right “lack of respect for life”


  3. Hi Ram,
    I tried to contact you at your excellent site but could find no contact email?
    Thanks for your contribution.
    I’m based in the UK.
    I often wonder why there is such a difference between the East and West. Is it a case that there is simply not enough money circulating to enforce some discipline or is there something more sinsister happening?

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