With only 1 per cent of the world's vehicles, India accounts for 11 per cent of the global death in road accidents, the highest in the world, according to a report by the World Bank.
The country accounts for about 4.5 lakh road crashes per annum, in which 1.5 lakh people die.
"India tops the world in road crash deaths and injuries. It has 1 per cent of the world's vehicles but accounts for 11 per cent of all road crash deaths, witnessing 53 road crashes every hour; killing 1 person every 4 minutes," the report said.
In the last decade, 13 lakh people died and another 50 lakh got injured on Indian roads, it said.
"Considering the under reporting phenomenon and using the crash ratios for the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways crash numbers", the report estimates the crash costs at Rs 5.96 lakh crore or 3.14 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).
The 2019 World Bank report, titled 'Guide for Road Safety Opportunities and Challenges: Low- and Middle-Income Countries Country Profiles', puts the road crash and serious injury cost estimate at 7.5 per cent of India's GDP or Rs 12.9 lakh crore for 2016. It is more than twice the figure cited by the government at 3 per cent of GDP or Rs 4.3 lakh crore, it added.
A recent study commissioned by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) estimates the socio-economic costs of road crashes at Rs 1,47,114 crore in India, which is equivalent to 0.77 per cent of the country's GDP.
"Considering the under reporting phenomenon and using the crash ratios for MoRTH crash numbers, the same study estimates the crash costs at Rs 5.96 lakh crores i.e. equivalent to 3.14 per cent," it said.
At the individual level, road crash injuries and deaths impose a severe financial burden and push entire (non-poor) households into poverty and the already poor into debt.
As per the Ministry, 76.2 per cent of people who are killed in road crashes are in their prime working-age, 18-45 years.
Globally, road traffic injuries (RTIs) are the eighth leading cause of death.
‘Poor, male road-users of working age, constitute VRU category’
According to the World Bank, the road crash fatality rate is three times higher in low-income countries compared to high-income countries, and statistics from India further reinforce this global trend.
There is a distinct correlation between socio-economic status and road use patterns in low- and middle-income countries like India and "poor people are more likely to be involved in a road traffic crash", it said.
In a country like India, where vulnerable road users are forced to share space with other less vulnerable road users, the income level of an individual has a direct bearing on the mode of transport used.
This in turn further determines the level of risk faced by a particular road user. The report said daily wage workers and workers employed as casual labourers in informal activities are more prone to be defined as vulnerable compared to workers engaged in regular activities.
"It is no coincidence, then, that it is often the poor, especially male road-users of working age, that constitute the category of vulnerable road users (VRUs) in India.
"VRUs bear a disproportionately large burden of road crashes and account for more than half of all road crash deaths and serious injuries in the country," it said.
As the world navigates through the Covid-19 pandemic, the road crash pandemic continues to fester the socio-economic landscape in India, the report said.
On Saturday, Road Transport, Highways and MSMEs Minister Nitin Gakdari has termed road accident scenario in India more "dangerous than the Covid-19 pandemic". He has said there could be a saving of Rs 90 lakh per person by preventing deaths and reducing injuries to minor ones in such incidents.
The Minister had stressed that the accident cost is a tremendous burden to society and the nation, and the estimated cost of a death in a road accident is around Rs 91.16 lakh.
Releasing the World Bank report on 'Traffic Crash Injuries And Disabilities: The Burden on India Society', Gadkari had said that in this alarming scenario, his ministry will formulate policies to protect the interest of the poor and embark on several reformative steps.