India, which has one per cent of the world's vehicles, accounts for 10 per cent of all road crash victims, the latest World Bank report on road safety said on Saturday.
Hartwig Schafer, World Bank's Vice President for South Asia, said the Indian government in recent years has taken significant steps to address the issues related to road safety.
For India, it's one per cent of the world's vehicles and 10 per cent of the crash victims. This is something where, in particular in India, we have to pay attention, Schafer told .
The report added that more than 75 per cent of poor households in India report a decline in their income post a road traffic crash and financial loss to them is equivalent to over seven months household income.
As high as 44 per cent of the households in rural areas reported at least one death after a road crash compared to 11.6 per cent of households in urban areas, the report -- Traffic Crash Injuries and Disabilities: The Burden on Indian Society- stated.
"The financial loss for the poor amounted to more than seven month's household income, while it was equivalent to less than one month's household income for rich households," said the report. Similarly, low income households (LIHs) reported twice the numbers of deaths post-crash vis-a-vis high income households (HIH).
Victims from LIH and rural areas are also twice more likely to suffer a disability after a crash than their HIH counterparts, it said. Highlighting the disproportionate impact of a road crash on poor households that pushes them into a vicious cycle of poverty and debt, the report sheds light on the links between road crashes, poverty, inequality, and vulnerable road users in India.
The study was done in collaboration with SaveLIFE Foundation a national non-governmental organisation, and based on the survey data collected from four Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, the research assessed the social, financial, gender, and psychological impacts of road crashes on poor and disadvantaged households. The report recommends policy-oriented approaches for saving lives and improving the ability of victims and their families to get back on their feet, including providing immediate financial, medical and legal aid.
Bringing out sharp rural-urban divide and the disproportionate impact on women, the Survey showed that the income decline for low-income rural households (56 per cent) was the most severe compared to low-income urban (29.5 per cent) and high-income rural households (39.5 per cent). Women bore the burden of crashes across poor and rich households, often taking up extra work, assuming greater responsibilities, and performing caregiving activities after a crash, it said.
About 50 per cent of women were severely affected by the decline in their household income after a crash. About 40 per cent of women reported a change in their working patterns post-crash, while around 11 per cent reported taking up extra work to deal with the financial crisis, it said.
The study documented low rates of access to insurance coverage and poor awareness related to legal compensation among truck drivers. It said two-thirds of truck drivers interviewed for the survey were not aware of third-party liability insurance. None of the drivers had applied for or benefited from cashless treatment at hospitals, Solatium Fund for hit and run cases or ex-gratia schemes.
In addition to the financial losses, the report highlights the social impact of road traffic injuries. About 64 per cent of low-income households reported a deterioration in their standard of living (more than twice reported by high-income households), while more than 50 percent reported mental depression post-crash. The report recommended making health infrastructure and coverage more accessible and inclusive; providing social security net for crash victims from low-income households through state support; creating an accessible legal framework for availing insurance and compensation for road crash victims. It also called for recognising the gender impact of road crashes and addressing it through participative governance and special schemes for women; and strengthening post-crash support for children and young adults through state support.
The study interviewed around 2,500 respondents including 1,647 respondents from low-income households, 432 from high-income households and 420 truck drivers in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar representing low-capacity states and Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra representing high-capacity States across urban and rural areas. The qualitative part of the study included focus group discussions with road crash survivors and their family members and in-depth interviews with adolescents aged 14-18 years, it said.
Road crashes can have a devastating and disproportionate impact on the poor, thrusting a family into deep poverty, said Hartwig Schafer, World Bank Vice President for the South Asia region. The World Bank is committed to supporting the Indian government in creating safety nets for poor households to ease their financial burden and help them cope with the sudden emergency linked to road crashes, he added.
Road Transport, Highways and MSMEs Minister Nitin Gadkari said the government has taken a number of positive initiatives to reduce road crash deaths in India. "With the support of all stakeholders in our society, I am committed to reducing road crash deaths by 50 percent by 2025.This report highlights the link between poverty and impact of road crashes. I urge all state governments to effectively implement the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 and work together to mitigate the effects of road crashes on poor and disadvantaged sections of the population," he said.
Piyush Tewari, CEO and founder of SaveLIFE Foundation said the findings of the report identify the areas that require immediate improvements such as efforts towards post-crash emergency care and protocols, insurance and compensation systems. It also presents an opportunity for development agencies, policymakers and respective state governments to prioritise a complete policy overhaul of the existing system and implement sustainable solution-oriented, inclusive measures to improve their performance on road safety, he added.