Millions of vehicles struggle for a space in India, where everyone is always in a hurry, but rarely on time. As, people are generally always in a rush, they keep on honking and honking, telling the fellow road users that they have a right to move ahead. The roads are the best place to see this bedlam or the organized chaos that the country runs on as it is estimated the amount of horns blown in India exceeds that’s blown in the rest of the world combined.
This might is right attitude is reflected in the number of accidents and people dying in these accidents where India again stands at the very top in the world.
As many as 139,671 people lost their lives on India’s roads during 2014; that’s 382 deaths every day and the number crossed 146,000 mark in 2015 as per ‘Road Accidents in India; 2013 Transport Research Wing, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways’ report. However, WHO’s estimate far exceeds this number. Accordingly, out of about 1.25 million people die each year worldwide on road traffic crashes and this figure is much higher in India where the estimated road traffic fatalities is 207 551, 16.6 persons per 100,000, a very high figure, resulting into an estimated 3 percent GDP loss due to road traffic crashes as reported in http://who.int/violence_injury_prevention/road_safety_status/2015/country_profiles/India.pdf
As a rule of thumb, number of vehicles, particularly of privately owned cars, in a country depends on its income-level. Higher the income, more the vehicles (See: The Elsevier Report: Income’s effect on car and vehicle ownership, worldwide, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0965856498000263.
But, India defies this rule as despite of being a middle-level income country has much more cars than China and when the USA was economically during the early 20th Century, almost at the par with today’s India, it had just a few thousand cars. And, India has millions!
Twin reasons: pathetic state of public transport as for the governments of all hues and colors in India, public transport, education and health is not a priority, combined with display of wealth and power where cars become status symbols, bigger, the better, most Indians with a little ‘extra’ income must possess a car.
But, along while car can be bought, traffic etiquette and manners, cannot. Blowing horns, even at the places where its banned like at schools and hospitals, jumping red lights, not wearing seat belts and helmets, no lane driving, over speeding and at worst, drunk driving kills more Indians on roads and that is more than four times the annual death toll from terrorism.
However, a ray of hope looms large at the horizon as the Maharashtra transport department has issued a circular banning the phrase ‘Horn OK Please’ on the rear of commercial vehicles across the state and now blowing horns is actively discouraged in Bombay.
Tomorrow, people across India may stop blowing horns and start observing traffic rules, resulting into fewer deaths.
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