NEW DELHI: In 2020, every 100 road crashes claimed, on an average, 37 lives as recorded by police across the country, the most in the last five years. Overall road deaths, however, reduced due to the pandemic induced restrictions on vehicle movement for months.
A comparative analysis of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data from 2017 to 2020 shows that the number of lives lost per 100 road crashes was 35 in 2019, 34 in 2018 and 32 in 2017. This is also defined as “severity of accidents” and an indicator of how safe or unsafe roads are.
According to the latest report on accidental deaths published by NCRB for 2020, the overall road fatalities reduced by nearly 14%, from about 1.5 lakh in 2019 to 1.3 lakh during last year, primarily on account of restrictions due to Covid-19. But indicators such as severity of crashes and increased share of two-wheeler occupants’ deaths in total fatalities — from 36% in 2019 to 43.6% in 2020 — emerged as issues of concern.
“The NCRB report also shows how the number of road crashes increased as restrictions on vehicle movement were lifted during the second half of 2020. This could be due to increased number of vehicles and also signs of systemic problems such as traffic engineering and faulty road designs that we need to fix rather than simply putting all the blame on road users,” said Rohit Baluja, a road safety expert and president of the College of Traffic Management.

In fact, the data shows that the number of road crashes in 2020 recorded by police departments touched the lowest ever in April at 8,350 and remained less than the figures of 2019 till October. The traffic crashes spiked in November and December. In November last year, the number of registered road crashes was 36,607 compared to 36,131 in 2019 and in December 2020, these increased to 38,128 compared to 36,394 a year back.
The NCRB does not publish the month-wise fatalities, unlike the ‘Road Accidents in India’ report that the road transport ministry publishes annually. The ministry has not yet published the report of 2020.


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