August 9, 2021 1:30:29 am
The coronavirus-induced lockdown shut down Maharashtra for the better part of 2020 but an analysis of the Highway Safety Patrol (HSP) data has found that while road accidents across the state dropped by a quarter from 2019, fatalities came down by just 10 per cent.
A total of 24,971 road accidents were reported in 2020 that left 11,569 people dead. Despite the lockdown restrictions on movement, accidents dropped 24 per cent, and fatalities remained high in comparison to 2019 when 32,925 crashes had led to 12,788 deaths.
Of the 10,773 fatal accidents, an average of over 1,000 accidents was reported in January and February alone. Between March and September, this number fell below a thousand. The lowest number of 282 fatal accidents was reported in April, causing 303 fatalities. The highest number of 1,368 accidents took place in December, in which 1,462 people were killed.
The reason behind this high number of accidents, a senior HSP official said, could be attributed to the high volume of vehicles on the road due to the discontinuance of the train services and speeding.
The massive numbers of people walking on the highways, trying to escape the Maharashtra lockdown and reach home in other dsitricts within Maharashtra or in other states, were also vulnerable to road accidents.
Across India, most of the horrific road accidents reported in 2020 were the ones that claimed the lives of migrant workers on their way back home on foot amid the lockdown, and Maharashtra was no exception. While the worst tragedy took place when a freight train mowed down 16 migrant workers walking on the tracks, four other labourers were crushed to death and three injured in the early days of the lockdown when a speeding truck ran over them at Bharol village in Virar on Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highway on March 28. The men were headed to their villages in Rajasthan on foot but had been turned back from the Maharashtra-Gujarat border. The truck hit them from behind.
According to the HSP road accident data for 2020 accessed by The Indian Express, of the total road accident fatalities in the state, 2,214 were pedestrians who died after being hit by vehicles — the second-highest fatality after 5,868 two-wheeler riders who accounted for over half the total fatalities. Four-wheeler accidents, too, led to 1,576
A bulk of the fatalities (9,152 deaths or 79%) were caused by speeding. Another 3,160 deaths were reported in hit-and-run cases but the type of collision could not be ascertained in
The highest fatalities were reported from Pune rural (696 deaths in 1,230 accidents), Nashik rural (801 deaths in 1,239 accidents) and Ahmednagar (642 deaths in 1,225 accidents). At 1,812, Mumbai recorded the highest number of accidents in the state but fewer deaths at 349.
Dhawal Ashar of World Resources Institute (WRI), India, a non-profit group that works to prevent road accidents in Mumbai, said, “It is a worrying trend in Pune rural if over one out of every two crashes are fatal, unlike Mumbai where it could be possibly ascribed to many factors, including the high vehicle density.”
“In Mumbai, the speed of vehicles is less as compared to highways and so the severity of accidents and injuries are more on highways. Further, in Mumbai trauma care is easily accessible but on highways, this is a major concern,” said Rajeev Choubey, risk management specialist of Resilient India, a non-profit group helping the state government to reduce accidents.
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