Fatal road accidents in state raise urgent safety questions

Sheezan Nezami Sheezan Nezami | 07-10 16:20

He said while Bihar has only 5% of the total NH length, around 44% of total deaths were reported from here, with over-speeding being the top cause.
While Mumbai’s chilling accident, in which a 45-year-old was hit and dragged for nearly 1.5km on a road, has raised concerns regarding road safety, similar incidents have become a daily affair in Bihar. For instance, five people died on the spot and three were seriously injured in Begusarai after a speeding car hit the autorickshaw they were travelling in on Tuesday morning. The two men inside the car abandoned their vehicle and fled.

Mumbai’s incident is reminiscent of another harrowing road accident in Patna in March 2019. A teenager, driving his father’s car with three friends inside, hit a 16-year-old boy in the Chulhainagar area under Rupuspur police station. Instead of stopping, the teenager dragged the deceased for nearly 8km, resulting in the complete mutilation of the body, with arms and legs severed.

In just nine days in July, at least 20 people have lost their lives in various road accidents across Bihar. On July 1, a speeding tractor hit a car in Chandi village under Mufassil police station in Rohtas, killing three people and splitting the vehicle in two. On July 5, a speeding car hit three bikes in Punpun, Patna district, resulting in the deaths of a man and his two children. On July 4, a one-year-old toddler and his parents died on the spot in Kishanganj district after their bike was hit by a truck. In 2023, nearly 10,000 road accidents occurred in Bihar, with around 8,900 fatalities.

Data shared by the traffic department on June 21, after analysing road accident data from 2020-2023, shows that the number of road accidents, including fatal ones, has been increasing in Bihar. According to this data, Bihar ranks 14th in road accidents on national highways but 7th in fatal accidents. Alarmingly, Bihar is second in terms of deaths per 100 accidents on national highways and in accidents per 10,000 vehicles, despite having only 5% of the total NH length.

Asked about the reasons for such accidents, ADG (traffic) Sudhanshu Kumar said, “Over-speeding is the main reason, followed by wrong-side driving and overloading of both public passenger vehicles as well as goods vehicles.” He cited an example of a road accident in Lakhisarai two months ago, where 14 people travelling in an auto died on the spot after their vehicle was hit by a speeding truck. “The auto with the capacity for three people had 14 inside it. All those travelling were cooks and helpers returning from a wedding. The auto lacked back light and was hit,” Sudhanshu said. He stressed the need for behavioural change to curb such accidents.

He said while Bihar has only 5% of the total NH length, around 44% of total deaths were reported from here, with over-speeding being the top cause.

Regarding measures to control such accidents, Sudhanshu mentioned the introduction of highway patrolling vehicles, flagged off by CM Nitish Kumar on June 21. “Twenty-three vehicles are currently in operation, with 38 more expected by mid-August, covering around 3,000km,” he said.

However, addressing the issues of black spots is necessary for reducing road accidents. There are more than 200 black spots in the state, over 95% of which are on national highways. “While roads have come up, there are no foot over bridges, especially in rural areas where people become the victims of speeding trucks,” said social worker Shahzade. “Simply putting up signages will not solve the problem. The govt should implement permanent solutions. There should be railway over bridges as well as foot over bridges at all required places,” he added.

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