Speed Thrills but Kills – Preventing Road Accidents in India

India has a well-connected and synchronised transportation infrastructure that plays a vital role in commercial development by supporting the equitable distribution of generated products and services and mobility of people.

The contribution of the transport sector to India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is gradually increasing. Traffic crashes are an obstacle and impede the smooth flow of traffic. The National Road Safety Council (NRSC) collects detailed data on traffic accidents, including road accidents in India for policymakers to surmise the patterns of traffic accidents and develop suitable intervention measures.

NCRB department gathers statistics on ‘Traffic accidents’ including

  • Road accidents in India
  • Railway accidents in India
  • Railway crossing accidents in India

These accidents are the leading causes of fatalities.

Introduction to Road Accidents

Annually, approximately a million deaths are directly attributed to road accidents throughout the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), road accidents are among the top causes of mortality.

Being a rapidly evolving nation with an industrialised economy, India experiences numerous road traffic accidents because of the rapid expansion of motorised vehicles. Road crashes generate substantial morbidity and death and have considerable economic repercussions on the national growth.

A road traffic accident can be attributed to several factors, including the environment, the automobile, and the living individual.

Road traffic accidents (RTAs) are typically unexpected. However, on numerous occasions, road traffic accidents could be foreseen and prevented. Therefore, an understanding of factors that lead to traffic accidents should be studied.

Specific preventative strategies, if implemented, could reduce RTA morbidity and mortality. Therefore, people should reduce road accidents in India.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways‘ Transport Research Wing publishes an annual report of road accidents in India related to deaths and injuries annually, based on particulars supplied by state and territorial police departments in a set of standardised formats approved by the Committee on Road Safety.

The Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways published a report of the World Bank, titled ‘Traffic Crash Injuries And Disabilities: The Burden on India Society’ compiled in association with the non-profit organisation Save Life Foundation. The report stated that based on data gathered from four Indian states, namely Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra.

The report highlights the salient features of road accidents in India after 2018. As per the report, road accidents in India contribute to 11% of the global death, which is the highest globally and is approximately 4.5 lakh road crashes annually of which 1.5 lakh individuals pass away.

Furthermore, the concerned Ministry predicted socio-economic cost of road accidents in India to be equal to 0.77% of the GDP. Here, 76.2% of people killed in road accidents in India are between 18 and 45 years.

Common Causes of Road Accidents in India

Road accidents in India remain tragically common, and most accidents could be attributed to human error. These accidents are often deadly and claim the lives of thousands of people each year. Therefore, vigilance, driving slowly, and adhering to road rules is advisable.

Cautiousness on the roads does not ensure safety. In countless instances, drivers were injured even when they were not at fault, and the pedestrian or another vehicle caused chaos.

Some of the reasons for fatal car crashes are as follows:

Human Error

Human error is the most significant contributor to road accidents in India. Instances of human mistakes include:

  1. Breaching road rules, such as running red lights, speeding, among others.
  2. Driving when intoxicated by alcohol or other substances.
  3. Interruptions by the use of cell phones when driving.
  4. Driver exhaustion (not having sufficient rest during long-distance travel)
  5. Failure to use adequate protective gear such as headgear and safety belts.

Road Infrastructure and Layout

The presence of many dark patches could be a factor for accidents in this category. Black patches on the road are areas prone to accidents, for example, sharp curves on a straight route, such as a hidden junction on a fast motorway. According to a report, these dark areas are the primary location for 90% of all traffic accidents.

Asymmetric road traffic engineering: two-wheelers accounted for the most significant proportion of overall traffic accidents. However, their safety is overlooked during road traffic engineering and planning. The lack of distinct lanes for two-wheelers and pedestrians demonstrates this oversight.

Furthermore, pits, potholes, uneven road conditions, and other problems resulting from the poor construction, norms, and administration of roads increases road accidents in India.

Automobile quality

The automobile condition is instrumental in road accidents in India. Such reasons include:

  1. Overburdening automobiles resulting in a tyre burst. This is most likely the case when trucks roll over.
  2. Using old cars may result in most failures and malfunctions on the road.
  3. Lax Vehicle Safety Standards for Manufacturers regulating quality criterion. For instance, the Global New Automobile Assessment Programme (NCAP) publicised in 2014 underlined that numerous India’s best-selling car models failed the frontal impact crash test.

Absent-minded driving

Distracted driving is the primary cause of the top causes of car accidents. Although the distraction could be minor, its consequences are significant. Distractions may be both outside and within the car.

The frequency of road accidents in India caused by distracted driving has grown over the last few decades. According to surveys, smartphones should be blamed for creating such distractions.

However, drivers should be completely focused when driving. This attentiveness should be instilled in them. Reading messages, responding to texts, answering calls, reading, grooming, and other activities while driving is dangerous and should be avoided.

Driving when drunk

Alcohol is consumed freely in special events. However, drunk driving may result in tragedies. Alcohol impairs concentration and reduces the reaction time of the human body. Limbs respond to brain orders slowly, which hinders vision due to dizziness.

Alcohol alleviates fear and encourages individuals to take risks. These variables contribute to road accidents in India, which are often fatal, the risk of accident doubles for every 0.05 rise in the blood alcohol content. Aside from alcohol, several substances and medications impair driving abilities and focus.

Rash driving

The majority of deadly incidents of road accidents in India are caused due to excessive speeds. Humans always strive for success. If given the opportunity, man would undoubtedly approach high speed. When on the road with other people. However, there would always be a trail behind one or more automobiles.

Increased speed increases the chance of an accident and the severity of injuries sustained during an accident. Fast automobiles are more likely than slower vehicles to be engaged in an accident, and the severity and the accident is greater in the case of faster vehicles.

The faster the speed is, the greater the risk is. The stopping distance increases when the speed is high. A slow vehicle promptly comes to a complete stop, but a fast vehicle has a longer time to stop and skids for a long distance.

A car travelling at fast speeds has a higher impact during the accident, which results in severe injuries. Driving at a quick pace reduces the capacity of a person to assess upcoming events, which may lead to errors in judgement and, eventually, a crash.

Not adhering to traffic rules.

Roadways are a safe place if people respect traffic rules. The guidelines are simple, yet few individuals follow them consistently.

For instance, a stop is always indicated by a red light. Even if no other car is approaching, running a red light and disobeying the law may result in a severe accident. Life is more important than all excuses combined and that it is better to be safe than sorry.

Vehicles cross without any regard to the signal at road crossings. The major reason for jumping a red light would be to save time. Stopping at a red light would commonly consider being a waste of time and fuel. As per studies, following traffic signals correctly by all vehicles saves time and ensures that commuters reach their destination safely and on time.

The primary reason for traffic bottlenecks is the confusion at the intersection leading to numerous road accidents in India. A red light jumper jeopardises not only his own life but also the safety of other road users. Misconduct by one motorist encourages other drivers to do it, which results in mayhem at the crossing.

Skipping protective gear such as seat belts and helmets

Failing to use a seat belt in a four-wheeler results in a fine because failure to wear a helmet in a two-wheeler results in punishment.

Wearing seat belts and helmets increases the odds of surviving a catastrophic accident by doubling one’s chances of survival. In the event of an accident, safety equipment keeps you intact and safe.

The use of helmets considerably decreases the number of two-wheeler fatalities because they are mandatory. To ensure maximum safety, safety gear that satisfies the necessary standards and ties it properly.

Road Safety Initiatives of the Government

The Ministry has undertaken several initiatives to prevent road accidents in India and continues to implement the following:

  • a multi-pronged road safety strategy based on education,
  • Engineering (both roads and vehicles),
  • Enforcement and emergency care,

The strategy includes, among other things, establishing driver training schools, raising awareness, enhancing vehicle quality standards, improving the road infrastructure, conducting road safety audits, among others.

The removal of blind spots is critical.

Few such initiatives are as follows:

National Transportation Policy

Among other things, the policy would:

  1. Formulate a road transport planning framework
  2. Develop a framework for permit issuance
  3. Outline transportation system priorities

Constitution of NRSC and State Road Safety Councils and District Committees

Following Section 215 of the Motor Vehicle Act of 1988, the government established the NRSC as the authority to make policy decisions on road safety. The Government of India has asked that all States/UTs establish State Road Safety Councils and District Road Safety Committees and hold regular meetings of these committees.

Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill 2019

The enactment of the Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill 2019 by both Houses of Parliament in August 2019 was a significant move of the Ministry in road safety. The preceding measure has been enacted into law.

The provisions of the Motor Vehicle Amendment Act 2019 that focus on road safety include:

  • increased penalties for traffic violations and electronic monitoring,
  • increased penalties for juvenile driving,
  • cashless treatment during the golden hour,
  • computerisation/automation of vehicle fitness and driving tests, recall of defective vehicles,
  • extending the scope of third-party liability, and
  • payment of increased compensation for hit-and-run cases, among other things

Features of the Motor Vehicle Amendment Act

  1. Vehicle fitness
  2. National Road Safety Board
  3. Compensation for the victims of road accidents
  4. Samaritan’s protection
  5. Mandatory insurance
  6. Taxi Aggregators
  7. National Transportation Policy
  8. National Register for Driving Licence and Vehicle Registration
  9. Online driving licences
  10. Motor Vehicles Accident Fund

Advantages of the Act Motor Vehicle Amendment Act

  1. The focus of this amendment is e-government, which enables online learning for licences and extends the validity duration of the driver’s licence. Therefore, certain educational criteria set for obtaining transportation licences are no longer required.
  2. The most significant advantage of this change for the average person is an increase in compensation for victims and their families and improved and faster insurance facilities.
  3. Measures have been adopted to optimise the car registration procedure by making it more convenient by using the ‘Sarathi’ and ‘Vahan’ platforms. Provisions allow car registration at the dealer’s end. Temporary registrations have been discouraged.
  4. The amount of air pollution in cities is likely to decrease drastically with substantial limits on vehicle fitness.
  5. The system is supposed to be more productive and risk-free as a result of digitisation and e-governance.

Central Motor Vehicles (Sixth Amendment) Rules, 2021

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has issued the Central Motor Vehicles (Sixth Amendment) Rules, 2021, which came into effect on April 1, 2021. Such rules amend Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989.

Major Alterations:

  1. Rule 8A substituted: ―8A. Minimum training required for driving E-rickshaw or E-cart.

    Individuals seeking a licence to drive an E-rickshaw or E-cart should undertake training for at least ten days and obtain a training certificate from any organisation accredited by the State Government.

  2. Rule 11 substituted: ―11. Conditions to be satisfied for obtaining learner’s licence

    Every applicant for a learner’s licence must complete a tutorial on safe driving within seven days of applying regulation 10. The tutorial should be completed electronically on a Portal, either by the applicant himself or with the assistance of a Facilitation Centre.

    The safe driving demo shall include information on the following topics:

    • Traffic signs, traffic signals, and the rules of the traffic laws issued under Section 118 of the Act
    • The obligations of a driver when his vehicle is found to be at fault resulting in a person’s death or bodily injury or damage to the property of a third party
    • Precautions to be taken when passing an unmanned railway crossing
    • Documents that should be carried
  3. After completing the safe driving instruction, every candidate should take a test within 7 days of applying Rule 10. If the candidate correctly answers at least 60% of the questions, the candidate is assumed to have passed the test.
  4. Rule 13 substituted: ―13. Form of learner’s licence

    Each provisional licence should be granted online by the licensing authority or after the applicant’s identification has been verified using e-signature.

  5. Rule 17A inserted: ―17A. Permanently surrendering a class or classes of vehicles from the driving licence.

    Any individual holding a driving licence to drive one or more classes of motor vehicles, whether valid or expired, may apply to any licensing authority in the State in Form 8 with the applicant’s driving licence and the appropriate fee as specified in Rule 32 for permanently surrendering a class or classes of vehicles from the driving licence. The licensing authority should eliminate the class or classes of motor vehicles from the applicant’s driving licence within 7 days after receipt of the application.

  6. Rule 18A inserted: ―18A. Issuance of duplicate driving licence

    In circumstances when the driving licence information is available on the portal, the licensing authority receiving an application for issuance of a duplicate driving licence that was lost, ripped, or mutilated shall issue the duplicate driving licence. If the driving licence information is not accessible on the portal, the licensing authority shall issue the driving licence electronically through the portal on confirmation from the original licensing authority.

  7. Rule 21A inserted: ―21A. Placing names in the public domain

    If a driving licence is revoked, the licensing authority may display the following information about the holder of the revoked driving licence on the Portal, in a separate section titled Revocation of Driving License. The following information about the revoked driving licence holder is displayed on the portal for 6 months: (i) name (ii) revoked driving licence number.


Annually, almost a million people lose their lives due to traffic accidents globally. Road accidents in India may also be the leading cause of death. As a rapidly expanding nation with an industrialised economy, road traffic accidents are highly prone in India because of the rapid proliferation of motorised cars.

Road traffic accidents cause significant morbidity and death and an enormous economic impact on national growth. A road traffic accident occurs when numerous factors collide.

Human lives are precious. Therefore, every precaution should be taken to prevent road accidents. Road accidents in India can be attributed to multiple causes such as improper infrastructure, drunk driving, overspeeding, negligence, among others.

The government plays their part by providing adequate infrastructure and regulating the traffic rules to follow them religiously. However, an individual must pay utter attention when driving to save others’ lives.

FAQs on Road Accidents in India

Is it possible to avoid road accidents in India?

Road accidents could be avoided by following traffic road rules.

On average, how many road accidents occur in India daily?

The daily average of road accidents is 1214 road crashes.

What is the objective of the Motor Vehicle Act?

The Motor Vehicle Act was enacted to preserve traffic discipline and reduce accidents and crimes.

Which is the latest Motor Vehicle Act for road safety in India?

The Central Motor Vehicles (Sixth Amendment) Rules, 2021, is the latest Motor Vehicles Act in India.

Accidents & Injuries