Assam records high accident death rate

Prabal Kr Das

GUWAHATI, Oct 18 – Authorities who maintain roads and those who use them need to take note, with credible data raising concerns over road accidents in Northeast India. Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya are among the States which have high rates of accidents and deaths in relation to number of vehicles on the road, according to National Crime Records Bureau.

In a report, the bureau reveals that rate of accidental deaths per thousand vehicles was quite high in Assam. In 2008, the figure stood at 1.9, whereas it was 0.7 in the case of Gujarat and 0.6 in Goa.

During the same year in Assam, 4,262 road accidents took place, and 1,721 people lost their lives. The number was among the highest the State recorded in recent years.

In Arunachal Pradesh, the number of deaths per cars that year was more alarming. The rate of accidental deaths per cars stood at 5.7, the highest in the entire country.

Sikkim is another State with high road accident deaths. In 2008, the all India percentage share was 37.1, but it hovered at 72.5 in the State. Manipur and Tripura also had rates higher than the all India percentage share.

Significantly, Assam is one of the States identified as “high prone areas on the basis of percentage share of deaths due to unnatural causes (rail road and railways accidents)”. While the all India share stood at 8.3 per cent, Assam was seventh in the list with 11.7 per cent.

According to experts, a number of factors are responsible for the high rates of accident, of which careless driving over difficult terrain continues to reap a deadly toll every year.

Dr Akhilesh Kumar Maurya, of IIT Guwahati’s Civil Engineering Department told The Assam Tribune that poor quality of roads was a major challenge to drivers in many parts of the Northeast. “Improvements in road design can enhance safety as well as comfort levels,” he noted.

It has also been said that road accidents in Assam and neighboring States shoot up during the monsoon and winter period. Such accidents have continued to rise as problems like poor visibility over roads have gone unaddressed.

The NCRB report identified trucks and lorries as the biggest causes of road accidents in India. In 2008, at least 25,135 people were killed by such vehicles across the country.

Accidents involving two-wheelers was the second biggest threat to road users, as they were involved in the death of 23,552 people.

Cars, both private and government owned, were major factor in road accident deaths. In 2008, 10,222 lives were lost in accidents involving cars.

A break-up of various causes of accidental deaths in 2008 in India showed that the 34.5 per cent of those were due to road accidents and rail-road and railway accidents were responsible for 7.6 per cent.