In 2020, India saw the lowest number of road accidents since 2000, least deaths since 2009, a Union government report analysed by CNN-News18 shows.
However, road accident severity, measured by the number of persons killed per 100 accidents, increased in 2020 to 36 – highest since 2000.
The report – ‘Road accidents in India – 2020’ – revealed that there were 3.66 lakh road accidents during 2020, which claimed 1.31 lakh lives and caused injuries to 3.48 lakh persons. In 2020, India witnessed Covid-induced nation-wide lockdown for about 2.5 months.
In 2020, with the outbreak of coronavirus, India went under a nationwide lockdown between March 24 and June 7. The country started phased-wise unlocking from June 8, 2020. All sorts of movements that were not listed as essential were barred during the lockdown period.
Compared to 2019, there was a sharp decline in all three major parameters of road accidents during 2020. The number of road accidents, the number of persons killed and the number of injuries decreased compared to previous year by 18.46%, 12.84% and 22.84%, respectively.
“The country saw a decrease in the number of accidents and fatalities in 2020 compared to 2019 due to many possible factors such as better traffic management, implementation of the new Motor Vehicles Act and Covid-induced lockdown,” the report says.
Prepared by the Transport Research Wing of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways , the report shows that the number of road accidents has been on decline since 2018.
When compared to the past data, the report shows that the number of road accidents were lowest in 2020 since 2000, when 3.91 lakh accidents were reported, while the deaths were lowest since 2009, when 1.26 lakh deaths were reported.
While 2020 was better in overall terms, the share of fatal accidents was highest since 2005, while the road accident severity was highest since 2000, the report shows.
In 2020, every third accident was fatal — accident involving at least one death. Of the total 3.66 lakh road accidents recorded in 2020, 1.21 lakh (33%) were fatal accidents. However, in terms of numbers, fatal accidents reported in 2020 were lowest since 2009, when 1.11 lakh fatal accidents were recorded. The number of fatal accidents in 2020 was also 12.23% lower than those recorded in 2019 (about 1.38 lakh).
The report shows that of the total 1.21 lakh fatal accidents, 43,412 (35.9%) accidents were reported on National Highways, 30,171 (25%) on State Highways and 47,223 (39.1%) on other roads.
Further, the report shows that the road accident severity increased from 33.7 in 2019 to 36.0 in 2020. Also, the long run trend, despite some marginal fluctuations, shows that this has been on an increase since 2000.
Mizoram (79) has recorded the highest accident severity, followed by Bihar (78) and Punjab (75) in 2020. The report also shows that about 60% of the states in India have accident severity higher than the national average of 36. On the other hand, those with lowest accident severity were Goa (9), Andaman & Nicobar Islands (10), Kerala and Nagaland (11 each), Jammu & Kashmir and Puducherry (15 each) and Tamil Nadu (18).
Over the past few decades, fatalities and injuries caused by road accidents are becoming a matter of great concern, particularly with the surge in motorisation, due to increasing population and increased vehicular penetration across the length and breadth of the nation.
Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death globally and the principal cause of death in the age group of 15 to 49.
Road accidents are multi-causal and are the result of an interplay of various factors. These can broadly be categorised into those relating to human error; road condition/environment; and vehicular condition. These factors act in an interactive manner to cause road accidents.