Delhi Has The Deadliest Roads In India


In the six years from 2008 to 2013, more than 12,300 people died in road accidents here. Last year alone, there were 1,820 deaths.

NEW DELHI – About 40 busloads of citizens die on the capital’s roads every year but the deaths do not shock anyone and governments over the years have done little to stop it. In the six years from 2008 to 2013, more than 12,300 people died in road accidents here. Last year alone, there were 1,820 deaths.

An assessment of road accidents done by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) reveals that not only does Delhi have the most dangerous roads in the country but pedestrians and bikers are at the greatest risk on them. On average, five persons die in road accidents every day, and four of them are either pedestrians or two-wheeler riders.

The traffic police have identified 128 accident hotspots — places where three or more fatal accidents, or 10 accidents have occurred in a year — and the CSE assessment shows that northwest and southwest Delhi have most such spots. Taken design-wise, signal-free arterial roads are the most dangerous. Ironically, roads that have received the maximum government attention and resources for widening and signal-free movement have the highest accident rates.

“These features have, in fact, turned arterial roads into death traps. Especially dangerous are spots where flyovers begin, such as Dhaula Kuan, AIIMS, Sarita Vihar, Mahipalpur, Rajokri, ITO or IP, and Moti Bagh,” says the report released on Monday. Eight key arterial roads, designed to be high-speed corridors, record nearly 75% of all deaths in Delhi. Even the areas around bus terminals and metro stations were found to be highly accident-prone.

For nearly a decade now, road infrastructure in Delhi has received a lot of attention but despite having the best roads in the country, the city leads in terms of traffic fatalities. Mumbai records far more accidents—25,000 in 2012—but the number of deaths is around 500. Even Chennai, with 9,000 accidents annually has 1,350 fatalities. However, Delhi has the highest percentage of fatal accidents. Last year, 1,820 persons died in 7,566 accidents.

Traffic experts say violation of rules is rampant in Delhi, and speeding is a common offence due to the better road conditions. This year, more than 3 lakh motorists have been challaned for jumping signals and 45,158 for speeding. Also, more than 14,000 cases of drunken driving have been detected.

At the release of the CSE’s assessment of road accident figures on Monday, activists, researchers and infrastructure agency representatives agreed that a lot needs to be done to make Delhi roads safer. Anil Shukla, additional commissioner of police (traffic), said policies on road safety are framed in fits and starts. “Our roads should be so designed that they are forgiving of the mistakes drivers make,” he said. At the same time, existing laws are not strong enough to deter traffic violations. For instance, the fine for many serious offences is a meagre Rs 100.

Shukla gave the examples of a traffic junction, where 1.3 lakh violations were detected in a month, and a man who was challaned 144 times in three months but did not correct his ways. “About 15% are court challans. Most wait for Lok Adalat hearings where cases are settled by paying a fine of Rs 10 or Rs 20. For a person who can afford a Rs 45-lakh car, does a fine of Rs 100 matter?”

Half of the road casualties (dead and injured) in Delhi are pedestrians (44%) and cyclists (6%), while nationally, the numbers are 9% and 5%, respectively. Till May this year, 325 people had died in accidents at night and 332 during daytime. An IIT Delhi study of AIIMS Flyover showed that after the cloverleaf was opened, speeds increased by 21.5%, 22.6%, 15% and 31.6% for heavy vehicles, cars, three wheelers and two wheelers, respectively. Yet, nearly 22% of pedestrians continued to cross the road at ‘grade’ level although a pedestrian underpass is provided.

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