So far, during the lockdown a total of 1,137 crashes are recoded nationwide and 274 road crash deaths are reported. Consumer VOICE along with its partners have been maintaining a ‘Road Crash Tracker’ to document road crash deaths and traffic violations during the lockdown since March 25 until now. Road crashes killed 1,51,417 people in 2018.
If on one hand the graph of COVID-19 cases is rising in India, on the other hand the number of road accidents especially of migrant labourers who are trying to return home during the ongoing lockdown is also steadily increasing. As per reports, India recorded about 600 road crashes in the first two phases of the lockdown. The scenes of migrant labourers trying to reach home by adopting desperate measures is too hard to even watch on TV channels or read in newspapers. The "pathetic condition of migrant labourers...is nothing but a human tragedy", as has been rightly put by the Madras High Court where lakhs of migrant labourers have resorted to desperate measures and are forced to return home after having rendered jobless and homeless.
While the central and respective state governments are trying their best to help migrants return home safely, there are several risk factors which need immediate attention. Risk factors like speeding, driving while fatigued, not wearing helmets continue to be responsible for the fatalities across the states. Speeding on empty roads has been one of the most common reasons for road crash deaths across States. Pedestrians in both urban areas, as well as State and National Highways, remain at tremendous risk from speeding vehicles. There is an urgent need to effectively enforce speed limits. Media reports indicate that driver fatigue combined with speeding has been responsible for the recent crashes.
In order to combat this, Road Safety Network, a National Coalition of organizations promoting safe roads in India has submitted a list of 15 recommendations to the Home Ministry to ensure the safety of migrants traveling on road. The recommendations are aimed at mitigating specific risk factors like speeding, driving while fatigued, overcrowding etc. Some of the recommendations are specifically towards the safety of migrant workers returning home” said, Ashim Sanyal, COO, Consumer VOICE organisation part of Road Safety Network.
These deaths were probably not even part of the framework as it was not anticipated. But it is now time to act!
(Facts sourced from various national dailies)