With Rising Number Of Road Deaths, Why India Needs To Fight Drink Driving
In 2015, nearly 1.5 lakh people, almost the entire population of a town like Shimla, died in road crashes in India. This is the highest number of road accident related deaths that India has ever recorded. These statistics also represent a 53.9% increase over the last decade, and nearly a tenfold increase since 1970.
According to the data, people riding two-wheelers including bicycles, and pedestrians are the most vulnerable to road accidents. In 2015 alone, over 60,000 people were killed in accidents involving two-wheelers and pedestrians.
States With The Worst Track Record
Tamil Nadu leads the nation in terms of road accidents, while Uttar Pradesh has recorded the most number of fatalities in 2015.
While the data does not distinguish between those accidents that are a result of drunken driving, the act continues to be a menace on the roads. Not only does drunk driving put at risk the life of the driver, but also that of co-passengers, other motorists and pedestrians. While bad roads or sudden faults in the vehicle may not be things that we can always control to avoid accidents, we can put an end to drunken driving.
According to the World Health Organisation, “The immediate effects of alcohol on the brain are either depressing or stimulating in nature, depending on the quantity consumed”. It further says that alcohol consumption “results in impairment which increases the likelihood of a crash since it produces poor judgement, increased reaction time, lower vigilance and decreased visual acuity. Physiologically, alcohol also lowers blood pressure and depresses consciousness and respiration. Alcohol can impair judgement and increase crash risk even at relatively low Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels. However, the effects become progressively worse as the BAC increases”.
According to Section 185 of The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, any person under the influence of alcohol or drugs, driving or attempting to drive a motor vehicle found to have an alcohol level exceeding 30 mg per 100 ml of blood as detected by a breath analyzer will be penalized as follows.
In a bid to make Indian roads safer and give the law more teeth, the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill, 2016, was approved by the Union Cabinet earlier this year. Once cleared, the new amendment will provide for heftier penalties in cases violating road safety laws, with the penalty for drunken driving potentially being increased fivefold to Rs. 10,000. Road accidents in India kill more people than terrorism or natural disasters, and the new bill can work as a huge deterrent to drunk and unsafe driving.