image007It’s mostly in the design.

In India, deaths due to road accidents have shot up by 54 per cent between 2004 and 2014; injuries are up by 13 per cent. In 2013, nearly 140,000 people died in road accidents — not even communicable diseases take this kind of mammoth toll. And a large proportion of these deaths are of pedestrians and cyclists.

The situation in Pakistan is no different if not worse.

The WHO now classifies disability, unproductive life years, and premature deaths related to road injuries as a significant health impact of motorisation. Globally, countries are trying their best to tackle this menace. For India, it’s business-as-usual — in a country where human life is really not worth very much, road safety is not a health issue.

Centre for Science and Environment’s urban mobility team decided to get to the bottom of this: taking Delhi as a case study, it proceeded to assess the accident risks and carry out a safety audit of selected roads to unearth the factors behind unsafe roads.

The analysis exposed how fatal road accidents have increased phenomenally because Indian cities design their roads only for motorised vehicles, not for walkers, cyclists or public transport users. Our roads do not have well designed spaces for these vulnerable segments. They do not allow safe crossings on roads, and do not believe in slowing down the traffic.