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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 48 November 25, 2023

Fatal road crashes in Southasia: From preventible to preventing | Mridul Bhasin

Saturday 25 November 2023


The World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims is commemorated on the third Sunday of November each year. But for those who have lost loved ones to road crashes, every day is a reminder of a preventable tragedy, writes a mother who started a road safety foundation after a carelessly driven school bus in Jaipur killed her teenage daughter

by Dr. Mridul Bhasin

In 1999, my 17-year old daughter was killed by an out-of-control bus. The driver had previous infractions of drunk driving. There were several bystanders and passers-by, but no one stopped to help.

It is still difficult to think about this profoundly tragic experience.

Who or what should we blame in these instances? The driver who was directly responsible? Or the government, which failed to enforce traffic rules and keep dangerous drivers off the road, or our societal road safety norms which promote risky behaviour and have no provisions for when accidents occur?

When we think of the sheer number of human lives lost in road traffic accidents in the Southasia* region, we begin to realise that we need to build our own road safety infrastructure using shared policy initiatives and best practices.

The region is home to an estimated 1.7 billion people, representing around 25 percent of the world’s population and also accounts for 25 percent of the world’s road crash fatalities. This, although it is the world’s least urbanised region, with only 10 percent of the world’s vehicles.

Southasia is aspirational in terms of economic progress, acquisition of transport vehicles and development of roads. Its automobile market is one of the fastest growing in the world with automobile manufaturers eying the region to increase sales. Despite this projected growth, the region struggles to implement meaningful countermeasures to automobile related injuries and deaths.

[Sapan News Feature]

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