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Status of Pothole Deaths in India

This article is written by Janvi Kashyap, a First year B.A. LLB (Hons.) Student of Ideal Institute of Management and Technology (Affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University), Delhi.

pothole deaths in India
Death Traps on Roads

Introduction

Road traffic injuries sustained to be one of the leading causes of death, disabilities, and hospitalization in the country despite our commitment and efforts to bring down the number of road accidents and fatalities. A road accident is the most unpredictable thing to happen to a road user. The most unfortunate thing is that we don’t learn from our mistakes on road. Most of the road users are quite well aware of the general rules and safety measures while using roads but it is only the leniency on part of road users, which causes accidents and crashes.

The main cause of accidents and other road happenings are due to human errors. But, we can take some preventive measures to ameliorate the accident ratios such as by educating every citizen of the nation and spreading awareness about road safety, by strict enforcement of Law, by manufacturing Road infrastructure. The statistics of the year 2019 reveal that there were 4,63,920 unfortunate incidents of road accidents during 2019 which claim 1,47,914 lives and caused injuries to 5,70,976 persons.

 The National Highways, which constitute approximately 2% of the total road network of the country, accounted for 31.4% of total road accidents and 35.5% of deaths in 2019. Among vehicle categories, two-wheelers accounted for the highest share (32.4%) in total road accidents and fatalities (28.8%) in 2019. Most, unfortunately, young adults in the age groups 18-45 comprise 73% of road accidents death victims.

Road traffic accidents are amenable to remedial actions. The endeavor of the Ministry will always be continued to strengthening automobile safety standards, or by improving the road infrastructure, these kinds of steps help to decrease the massive ratios in the road accident.

Therefore, the year 2019 witnessed consolidation in the implementation of road safety strategy under which necessary resources, programs, and legislation have been put in place for improving the road safety scenario in the nation. The report, in its last two sections, gives details of the road safety policy and action plan, such as decentralized institutional framework, road engineering measures and road safety audits, vehicle manufacturing design, enforcement of traffic laws, training of drivers, etc. has helped to some extent.

It is hoped that the data on road accidents and the basic analysis contained in this report will be useful in the analysis of road safety issues leading to appropriate policy responses to achieve a reduction in road accidents and resultant fatalities.

The statistics of pothole deaths that befall in the country throughout the year’s

  • In 2015, the number of pothole deaths rose to 11,000 lives as compare to the last year.

In 2014, the cases of road accidents already touches their lofty peaks that are 4.86 lakh whereas in 2014 those cases increased up to 4.89 lakh. This indicates that Indian roads are becoming perilous, risky, and deadly due to the poor infrastructure of roads as over 11,000 people were killed by potholes and speed breakers last year alone.

In 2015, the number of road accidents rose straight with the figure jumping from 4.86 lakh in 2014 to 4.89 lakh. Not only that but fatalities have also gone up by 1.5 percent. Thirteen states of Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal, Bihar, Punjab, and Haryana account for about 83.2 percent of the deaths. In India, a person has killed in a road accident every four minutes, and the stats measure 141,000 deaths in 2014. We all have to give our contribution to make improvements in road happenings that are increasing day by day.

  • In 2016, the road accidents in India rose to the extent that the death ratio increases a lot, where Chennai and Delhi are dangerous.

A report published by Transport Research wing under Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, Government of India on Road Accidents occurred in 2016 in India, has revealed that every coming year increases the pothole deaths As per the data mentioned in the report, the country recorded at least 4,80,642 accidents in 2016 (there are many left out cases), leading to 1,50,785 deaths, which is a huge number in itself.

  • In 2017, in our national capital Delhi Potholes took a deadly toll in 2017, claiming almost 10 lives daily with annual casualties in the country which is more than fifty percent rise over the toll for 2016.

The magnitude of the problem can be understood from the fact that by including Naxal attacks, the happening of natural calamities and terrorist activities which claimed eight hundred lives in 2017. But from the last five years, potholes killed more people than that of terrorists. The apex court takes a serious note on increasing figures of potholes deaths, and one of the main reasons are the inadequate infrastructure of the roads.

To handle this significant issue. A bench is formed, headed by Justice Madan B Lokur said that the large number of deaths caused due to potholes was ‘unbearable” and “unacceptable. Therefore, the bench declared that the large number of deaths caused due to potholes is unacceptable and unbearable. It’s probably more than those killed on border or by the terrorists.  The bench sought a response on the report filed by the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety from the Centre, which is headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice K. S. Radhakrishnan. The bench has adjourned the matter.

  • In 2018, Ministry of Roads Transport and Highways said that a total of 4,870 accidents took place on roads with potholes.

In the N.C.R Delhi the apex court remarked that most people die in potholes as compared to the ones who die in the boundaries and demanded an explanation from the central government on a report to this effect submitted to it by a court-appointed panel on road safety. The panel is headed by former top court judge K.S. Radhakrishnan. A report submitted by the panel placed the number of casualties in the last five years from pothole-related accidents at 14,926.

This figure was unacceptable, a bench headed by Justice Madan B. Lokur, said as mentioned previously that probably more than those killed on border or by the terrorists. Justices Deepak and Hemant Gupta who were also part of the bench said that the high figure displayed the indifference of the authorities concerned towards maintaining the roads.

The apex court asked the committee earlier in July to examine the issue dubbing the magnitude of the problem as “Petrifying” and get back to the court with figures and facts with the time span of two weeks. The court had also suggested compensation is granted for all those families who lost their members in such accidents.

  • In 2019, More than 2,000 people killed in road accidents caused by potholes; 3 states account for maximum deaths.

Though the number of deaths due to the road accidents caused by potholes has declined in comparison with 2017, three states continue to report heavy loss of life. More than 2,000 people lost their lives last year due to the road accidents caused by potholes and more than 4,000 people were injured in over 4,800 road accidents, according to the latest data given by the government in Parliament.

Three states, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Haryana account for the maximum number of deaths due to potholes. While 1,043 people were killed in road accidents in Uttar Pradesh last year due to potholes, 222 people died in Haryana and 166 people died in Maharashtra, said road and transport minister Nitin Gadkari.

Landmark Case- Larsen and turbo charged in pothole death case

A special investigation team (SIT) headed by an ACP-rank officer has held two companies and its four officials responsible for the death of a three-year-old boy in a pothole-related accident on the national highway near the Bata crossing here in February 2014.

In the status report submitted in the local court through an affidavit, Balbir Singh ACP, Ballabgarh, has reported that the investigation had found the Directors and project managers of Larsen and Toubro (L&T) and DA Toll Road Private Limited responsible for the mishap, as the work of construction and maintenance of the highway on which the accident took place had been assigned to them. Rajesh Kumar, project manager, L&T, and Rajesh Kumar Madan, project manager, DA Toll Road Private Limited, have been named.

The report submitted under Section 173 of the CrPC mentions that the accused have been charged for causing grievous hurt by endangering life or personal safety and causing death due to negligence. The SIT was set up in August after the police were pulled up by the High Court and were directed to submit its final report to fix the responsibility. The direction came in response to a civil writ petition filed by Manoj, father of the victim.

After five years a three-year-old boy died in an accident caused by a pothole, the Faridabad police have named as accused all directors major of Larsen & Toubro, including its chairman and two independent directors, and the charge sheet submitted to a local court.

The date of the case 10 Feb 2014, It’s the date when the three-year-old (Pavitra) was killed on NH-2 while traveling with his parents. His mother, Teena Wadhwa, was seriously injured and has not yet fully recovered. His father, Manoj, approached Punjab and Haryana high court to fix responsibility on NHAI and agencies involved in road widening and maintenance. The Faridabad police named six accused and a final report was filed on October 12, 2018.

 Instead of waiting for authorities to take action, a man in Faridabad took matters in his own hands and decided to fill potholes on the roads on his own. This comes after Manoj Kumar Wadhwa, a telecom engineer from Faridabad, lost his three-year-old son in a road accident on the Delhi-Agra road six years ago. On February 10, 2014, Mr. Manoj, with his wife and son, Pavitra, was returning to his residence after attending a marriage function when he came across a puddle on the Delhi-Agra highway and lost balance.

His son fell on a sharp stone following which he was declared brought dead and his wife had to undergo 23 surgeries. After this tragic loss, Mr. Wadhwa spent time taking tutorials from Pothole Warriors and Pothole Raja on how to fill potholes. To make sure a similar incident is never repeated with anyone else, he started filling potholes on roads in his locality with the help of his friends on January 26 i.e Republic Day.

Conclusion

The statistics of “Pothole deaths” are increasing day by day. To administered fairness and justice towards the people who lost their lives in these road accidents, we have to take some momentous action whether through provisions or taking some precautions by ourselves. In this article, I’ve attempted to manifest the statistics of “Pothole Deaths in India” from the last five years. This article strives upon the idea that we already lost so many lives, furthermore is not acceptable. If we have to enforce strict laws and provisions to keep the ratio decreased, then we surely have to opt for that path. In this article, the statistics of Potholes’ deaths are mentioned with a Landmark case analysis.

 Somehow, we all are responsible for all the happenings. So, firstly we need to start from ourselves, by changing ourselves, by following the rules and regulations, by guiding others to behave righteously. Finally, yet importantly, I would like to expound a prominent quote by Mahatma Gandhi that,

“If you want to change the world, start with yourself”.

This article is edited by Rupreet Kaur Dhariwal.

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