Traffic accidents in India

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Death rates from road traffic collisions by country, per 100,000 inhabitants, world map (WHO 2012). Indian traffic fatality rate was about 17 per 100,000 people.[1][note 1]
  fewer than 5
  more than 40

Traffic Collisions in India are a major source of deaths, injuries and property damage every year. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 2016 report states there were 496,762 roads, railways and railway crossing-related traffic collisions in 2015.[2] Of these, road collisions accounted for 464,674 collisions which caused 148,707 traffic-related deaths in India.[2] The three highest total number of fatalities were reported in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, and together they accounted for about 33% of total Indian traffic fatalities in 2015.[2] Adjusted for 182.45 million vehicles[note 2] and its 1.31 billion population, India reported a traffic collision rate of about 0.8 per 1000 vehicles in 2015 compared to 0.9 per 1000 vehicles in 2012, and an 11.35 fatality rate per 100,000 people in 2015.[2] According to Gururaj, the top three highest traffic fatality rates per 100,000 people in 2005 were reported by Tamil Nadu, Goa and Haryana, with a male:female fatality ratio of about 5:1.[4] The reported total fatality, rates per 100,000 people and the regional variation of traffic collisions per 100,000 people varies by source. For example, Rahul Goel in 2018 reports an India-wide average fatality rate of 11.6 per 100,000 people and Goa to be the state with the highest fatality rate.[5]

Total number of persons killed and injured due to road accidents, from 2001 to 2010

According to the 2013 global survey of traffic collisions by the UN World Health Organization, India suffered a road fatality rate of 16.6 per 100,000 people in 2013.[6] India's average traffic collision fatality rate was similar to the world average rate of 17.4 deaths per 100,000 people, less than the low-income countries which averaged 24.1 deaths per 100,000, and higher than the high-income countries which reported the lowest average rate of 9.2 deaths per 100,000 in 2013.[7]

Extent of traffic collisions[edit]

Tamil Nadu records the highest road collisions for a decade and its capital Chennai has more collisions than any other city in India. The city has had the dubious distinction of having one of the highest rates of death from road accidents globally from as far back as the 1960s at a time when the number of vehicles in the city was a minuscule fraction of that in larger metropolises of the world such as New York and Tokyo.[8]

Collision data in Tamil Nadu
Year Collisions Casualties
2000 8,269 9,300
2001 8,579 9,571
2002 9,012 9,939
2003 8,393 9,275
2004 8,733 9,507
2005 8,844 9,760
2006 10,055 11,009
2007 11,034 12,036
2008 11,813 12,784
2009 12,727 13,746
2010 14,241 15,409
2011 14,359 15,422
2012 15,072 16,175
2013 14,504 15,563
Footnote: Sources:[9]

In New Delhi, the capital of India, the frequency of traffic collisions is 40 times higher than the rate in London, the capital of the United Kingdom.[10]

Traffic collision-related deaths increased from 13 per hour in 2008 to 14 per hour in 2009. More than 40 per cent of these casualties are associated with motorcycles and trucks. The most collision-prone time on Indian roads is during the peak hour at afternoon and evening.[11]

According to road traffic safety experts, the actual number of casualties may be higher than what is documented, as many traffic collisions go unreported. Moreover, victims who die some time after the collision, a span of time which may vary from a few hours to several days, are not counted as car crash victims.[11]

In 2015, one person dies every 4 minutes in roads collisions in India, according to NGO 'Indians for Road Safety'.[1]

Contributing factors[edit]

Unsafe travel on motorcycles in Hyderabad.

The "GlobStatus Report on Road Safety" published by the World Health Organization (WHO) identified the major causes of traffic collisions as driving over the speed limit, driving under the influence, and not using helmets and seat belts.[11] Failure to maintain lane or yield to oncoming traffic when turning are prime causes of collisions on four lane, non-access controlled National Highways. The report noted users of motorcycles and motor-powered three-wheelers constitute the second largest group of traffic collision deaths.[12] Footnote: Sources

Economic cost[edit]

Multiple vehicle collision occurred on a busy road crossing at office time in Kolkata.

The Planning Commission in its 2001–2003 research estimated that traffic collision resulted in an annual monetary loss of $10 billion (INR 550 billion) during the years 1999–2000. In 2012, the International Road Federation (IRF) estimated that traffic collision results in an annual monetary loss of $20 billion (INR 1 trillion (short scale)) in India. This figure includes expenses associated with the collision victim, property damage and administration expenses.[13]

Measures to reduce traffic collisions[edit]

The Campaign Against Drunken Driving (CADD) is an organization founded by Prince Singhal which is campaigning against driving under the influence. But this campaign has been ineffective.[11] The IRF asserts that people in India's political sphere do not have the will to curb traffic collisions. Harman Singh Siddhu of ArriveSafe, an organization working for improvement in road traffic safety, asserted that a general lack of respect for traffic rules in India is a contributing factor for road collisions.[14] He also has pointed out that although the 2010s was declared by the United Nations as "Decade of Action for Road Safety", no celebration was held in India.[13] CSIR - Central Road Research Institute has developed an online accident recording portal. The main purpose of this portal is to encourage people to report the collisions they see. A group of Indian Researchers have developed a low-cost device which prevents automobile drivers from receiving or making cellphone calls when at wheel, but allows calls to other passengers in the vehicle.[15]

Road safety policies in India[edit]

Road safety is emerging as a major social concern in the country and the Indian government has been attempting to tackle this crucial issue for several years. The Road Transport and Safety Bill 2014 was to provide a framework for safer, faster, cost-effective and inclusive movement of passengers and freight in India. In July 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his government will soon introduce laws to enhance road safety as traffic fatalities and injuries mount.[16] A new Road Transport and Safety Bill is under preparation and a group of experts underlined the "urgent" need of a comprehensive national road safety legislation.[17]

Embarq India, an initiative from the World Resources Institute (WRI),[18] has developed significant expertise in conducting road safety audits on a number of bus rapid transit systems in India. Arrive SAFE is a NGO who works as a pressure group to give a wake-up call to authorities concerned and shake the bad driving habits of Indian people.[19] Indian driving schools focus on youth to enhance the art and skill of efficient driving.[20]

Many multinational companies fund NGOs as part of their own road safety initiatives:

Maruti Suzuki closely works with Ministry of Tribal Development in Gujarat to train young people in driving.

Michelin, co-founder of the Global Road Safety Initiatives (GRSI), has established, in India, an innovative partnership with the foundation of PVR Cinemas, PVR Nest as part of its CineArt "Steer to Safety" program to educate and empower children about road safety. Through this platform, children learn how to prevent and/or manage in emergency situations on Indian roads.

Henkel has launched a road safety initiative in an effort to address the topical issue of safety standards on the road in India.

List of major collisions[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The following groupings/assumptions were made:
    • France includes the overseas departments as well as overseas collectivities.
    • The United Kingdom includes the Crown dependencies as well as the overseas territories.
    • The United States of America includes the insular areas.
    • The Netherlands includes Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles.
    • Denmark includes Greenland and the Faroe islands.
    • China includes the SARs of Hong Kong and Macao.
  2. ^ The 182.45 million in reported by NCRB as the basis. However, other sources such as the MoRTH of Government of India states there were 210,023,289 registered vehicles in India as of March 2015.[3]


  1. ^ Data from World Health Organization Estimated Deaths 2012
  2. ^ a b c d Traffic accidents, NCRB 2016 Report, Chapter 1A: Traffic Accidents, Government of India
  3. ^ Registered Motor Vehicles in India as on 31.03. 2015 Government of India
  4. ^ G. GURURAJ (2008), Road traffic deaths, injuries and disabilities in India: Current scenario, The National Medical Journal of India, volume 21, no 1, page 116
  5. ^ Goel, Rahul (2018). "Modelling of road traffic fatalities in India". Accident Analysis & Prevention. Elsevier BV. 112: 105–115. doi:10.1016/j.aap.2017.12.019.
  7. ^ WHO, ed. (2015). "Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015" (PDF) (official report). Geneva: World Health Organisation (WHO). pp. vii, 1–14, 75ff (countries), 264–271 (table A2), 316–332 (table A10). ISBN 978 92 4 156506 6. Retrieved 27 January 2016. Tables A2 & A10, data from 2013
  8. ^ "From the Archives (September 18, 1969): Safety on roads(From an Editorial)". The Hindu. 18 September 2019. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  9. ^ "Accident details for Tamil Nadu in certain years" (PDF). State transport authority, Government of Tamil Nadu. 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  10. ^ TR Jain; Mukesh Trehan; Ranju Trehan. Indian Economy. FK Publications. p. 457. ISBN 978-81-87140-37-5. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  11. ^ a b c d Murali Krishnan (29 April 2010). "India has the highest number of road accidents in the world". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  12. ^ Global Status Report on Road Safety: Country profiles: India (PDF) (Report). World Health Organization. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  13. ^ a b "Road accidents cost India $20 bn every year". The Times of India. 19 February 2012. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  14. ^ "No U-Turn on Indian Road Safety". Harman Singh Siddhu. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
  15. ^ "Indian Engineers develop device which jams Cellphones of Car Drivers". IANS. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  16. ^ Philip, Siddharth. "India to Introduce Road Safety Law Reform, Modi Says". Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  17. ^ "Experts highlight need of comprehensive road safety law". timesofindia-economictimes. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  18. ^ "EMBARQ India | Helping cities make sustainable transport a reality". Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  19. ^ "ArriveSAFE, Road Safety India". Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  20. ^ "Indian Traffic Rules Road Safety - Road Rage - Driving License in India". Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  21. ^ "37 killed, 24 injured as bus plunges into river in Gujarat". IBNLive. 5 February 2016. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  22. ^ "Bus plunges into river in India; 37 killed - Newspaper". 6 February 2016. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  23. ^ "37 killed as bus plunges into river in Gujarat | india". Hindustan Times. 6 February 2016. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  24. ^ "37 Passengers Killed After A Bus Falls Into River In Gujarat". 5 February 2016. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  25. ^ "37 killed as bus plunges into Purna river in Navsari". 5 February 2016. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  26. ^ "30 Killed as Bus Falls Into Canal in Karnataka's Mandya, Driver Swims to Safety". CNN. 24 November 2018. Retrieved 24 November 2018.