India increases its lead over China in road fatalities

India Traffic

Since 2006 India has officially been home to the world”s most dangerous roadway system despite the fact that there are fewer cars in India than in most Western countries. While road deaths have declined or stabilized in many other large markets, roadway fatalities are skyrocketing in India, having risen 40% in five years to reach more than 118,000 in 2008.

Many factors contribute to the roadway danger in India; the drivers are largely untrained, law enforcement is inadequate, and there has been a recent surge of vehicles into the market. With its growing population and rising economy, India is an important player on the stage of world affairs. Still, these numbers are a staunch reminder of how far the country has to come in order to protect its citizens.

There is very little segregation of heavy traffic and pedestrians. One of the main expressways that runs from Delhi to Greater Noida is lined with farmland, shopping malls, industrial parks, and hut settlements piled high with cow-dung patties. The New York Times reported that “During a 40-minute ride on that highway, a tractor hauling gravel was seen driving the wrong way, a milk truck stopped in the road so its driver could urinate and motorists swerved to avoid a bicycle cart full of wooden tables in the fast lane. Drivers chatted on mobile phones as they steered stick-shift cars and wove across lanes. Side mirrors were often turned in or were nonexistent.”

Indian officials say that road safety is currently a high priority, but safety experts say the government is to slow to act. Currently, a plan is in place to raise $45 billion from private investors to extend the country”s 2-million-mile network of roads, but government planners warn that fatalities are unlikely to curb soon.

Incidents of severe road rage also become common in situations such as this, where fed up Indians form impromptu mobs to handle unruly drivers.

– By: Stephen Calogera

Source: NYT