A report on road accidents as published by the Union transport ministry shows a steep rise in the number of pedestrians killed on the roads. As per the report, a rise of 84 per cent has been recorded between 2014 and 2018, with average daily fatalities going up from 34 in 2014 to 62 last year. The report also says a total of 12,330 pedestrians were killed across the country in 2014. The number steady rose to 13,894 in 2015, 15,746 in 2016, 20,457 in 2017 and 22,656 last year.
According to road safety experts, the rising fatalities show that the first right of pedestrians on the road has neither been understood nor given precedence while planning roads or while preparing traffic movement plans.
Pedestrians and cyclists accounted for 15 per cent and 2.4 per cent of all road deaths, respectively.
Globally, pedestrians are treated as the most vulnerable road users and their protection gets the highest priority.
States that top list of pedestrian fatalities
West Bengal has topped the list of pedestrian fatalities with 2,618 deaths in the stated time span, which is followed by Maharashtra (2,515) and Andhra Pradesh (1,569). Pedestrians in Delhi accounted for 420 deaths, more than one-fourth of the total road fatalities.
“In the western world, a lot of thought goes into making vehicles safe. In countries such as ours, we need to focus more on protecting pedestrians. We have a high number of pedestrian deaths in urban areas and with urban areas expanding rapidly, we are witnessing more such deaths. Though the Motor Vehicle Driving Regulation gives the first right to pedestrians at uncontrolled pedestrian crossings, it’s neither respected nor enforced. The entire traffic engineering followed by consultants, concessionaires and government is focussed on motorisation,” Rohit Baluja, a road safety expert, said.
He added that almost all footpaths were encroached upon across cities and pedestrians were forced to walk on main roads.
Municipal bodies and other road owning agencies usually take just cosmetic action on removing encroachments and clearing footpaths, mostly after court orders.
In some cases, city authorities have developed walking-friendly stretches but these have been mostly confined to a few upscale localities.