Monday, August 22, 2011

Road Traffic Accidents in India

I am a survivor of two road traffic accidents (RTA), both of which changed me life forever. The first one happened when I was 22 years old and it resulted in my losing use of my physical form as I become disabled for life. The second happened when I was 39 years old that resulted in my losing my soul as I lost my soul-mate in it.

It is two years to my husbands death, and as I drown in sadness and hopelessness, I cannot but help feel angry at the way our country functions, things that are important to us as a society, government corruption and apathy towards its citizens.

India has the largest number of deaths due to road traffic accidents. According to a WHO report ‘13 people die every hour in RTAs in the country.’1 I do not have statistics of people who become permanently disabled due to RTAs, though the biggest cause of spinal injuries in India is RTA. I do not even have statistics of families that are devastated because of the demise or permanent disability of their loved ones in a RTA.

But does the government care? Is it an aggressive issue in their road and highway building strategy and process to reduce RTAs? The automobile industry is booming with India becoming the sixth largest motor vehicle/car manufacturer in the world in 2010 and is expected to rise to the fourth position by 2014.2  Sure this is a clear indication of India becoming a developed nation but on the other hand if we reviewed our public transport system, that can reduce the traffic on roads, we would by way down on the international scenario, so to me it seems like a lopsided economy favouring industry, which I have nothing against as long as the economy favours social growth as much.

India spends less than 1% of its GDP on health care of its people. It may sound good but considering India has the highest population in the world, the per capita expense is very low. The state of trauma care in government hospitals in our country could not get worse. To say that the severity of my disability and the death of my husband are a direct outcome of the horrible attitudes of the doctors where all patients are like guinea pigs and the non-existent nursing caret in government hospitals where one is taken to after the accident. Remember most often one is in no state after an accident to take decision, therefore being taken to a government hospital is an automatic process.

Cost of private health care is soring high. Considering that the government doesn’t have adequate infrastructure to cope with the national health care needs, then how can they allow private health care to become so expensive. What right does the government have to levy such high taxes on private healthcare services?

Emergency health care, availability of ambulance with trained staff on highways is still a dream. My severely injured family was transferred from one ambulance to another at least thrice before finally reaching a hospital and it took about ten hours after our accident. All the ambulances were nothing but regular vehicles with not even oxygen cylinders on board. We travelled bleeding, unconscious and mourning on stretchers for ten hours alone without even one paramedical person with us. The only person traveling with us was the driver.

Lets face it Road traffic accidents in India are a high probability. Let me also mention without mincing my words you that in the present scenario there is no value for any body’s life in our society. Therefore, I would really like to urge the society as well as the government to take cognisance of the high number of accidents happening in India work towards reducing them and improving trauma health care.


  1. I also blame ourselves as drivers - we all believe we are superhuman and can multi task. We think nothing when we see a driver with a phone in one hand. Or when we travel on our highways at top speeds without or seat belts. Or on two-wheelers. Or have a couple of drinks before we drive. It is simple to reduce the incidence of accidents and that is in our hands. We need to protest strongly when someone else violates these basic rules and of course, make sure we never violate them ourselves. Prevention is half the battle won. The other half is ensuring better services after the accident. The statistics are definitely scary.

    Thanks for sharing you experience, Shivani.

  2. This is really very useful information writing about the road accidents. If we all follow traffic rules then it will better for us. The other noticeable cause of accident is speeding.

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  3. The traffic safety awareness of road users remains low..and i think poor road surfaces can lead to safety problems...Road traffic accidents have come down in most western countries due to strict traffic rules and stringent penalities..
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  4. The common road traffic accident injury that can be sustained by a person is a neck and a whiplash injury, fractures, head and brain injuries, spinal cord injuries or even death.

  5. I had an accident also when I was 10 years old and I am badly injured and lost my bicycle


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I became disabled person when I was 22 years old in a car accident. There was a very marked change in people’s behaviour towards me, and o...