43 Children Die In Road Accidents In India Every Day
In a disastrous accident in Etah district of Uttar Pradesh yesterday over 20 school-going children between the ages of 3 and 15 were killed, and dozens injured when their school bus was hit by a speeding lorry. It was early in the morning and about 60 children were on board the bus, on their way to the JS Vidyaniketan School. The driver of the bus was also killed in the crash.
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India’s road safety record is among the worst in the world, and Thursday’s incident just underscores how dangerous Indian roads can be, especially for children. Statistics from the National Crime Records Bureau shows that almost 43 children die in road accidents across the country each day and the children below the age of 18 years who die in road accidents make up 10.5 percent of all fatalities.
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More Children Die In Road Crashes Than From Crimes Against Them
In 2015 alone, more than 400 children were killed in school bus related incidents. Thousands more were killed and injured in car, motorbike and pedestrian accidents. According to data from the National Crime Records Bureau, 15,633 children were killed in road accidents across India in 2015. That is nearly 7 times more deaths caused due to road accidents than crimes against children like murder and foeticide.
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In the state of Uttar Pradesh where the accident took place about 2610 children died in 2015 due to road crashes. 1102 children were between the ages of 0 to 14 years amounting to over 1/5th of the total number of children between the same ages killed in road accidents across India.
Despite such shocking statistics, discussions on road safety are often put on the back burner. A proposed amendment to the Motor Vehicles Act that could make safety measures like car seats, seat belts and helmets mandatory for children, is currently languishing with a parliamentary committee.
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Speaking to NDTV about child safety, Saji Cherian, Director of Operations, SaveLIFE Foundation said, We urgently need major reforms in the way our children are transported and their safety on the roads. Stricter penalties for traffic offences involving children, regulation of school buses, vans and other vehicles which children use for commute to school, and most importantly, accountability of drivers and conductors need to be defined in law and strictly enforced.
Why Does India Lag Behind?
According to the World Health Organisation, using a child seat decreases the risk of death in a crash by about 70% for infants and up to 80% for small children, and should therefore be made compulsory for safer road practices.
It also mentions that the child is safer seated in the rear of a vehicle rather than in the front. Following this guideline countries should have laws restricting children from sitting in the front seat if they are under a certain age (usually between 10 and 12 years) or under a specific height (usually between 135–150 cm).
Also Read: Are Road Safety Laws In India Letting Our Children Down?
Despite a huge road safety issue, India does not meet the WHO standards on child safety as the law does not provide for the two criteria listed above.
Also Read: Dangerous Roads: How India Compares To The World
The Need Of The Hour
India definitely needs stricter laws to reduce child fatalities in road accidents along with awareness and greater accountability. It’s a shame that a country that has managed to eradicate polio and eliminated many life threatening diseases in the last couple of years has failed to protect its children from preventable road deaths.