The number of people killed in road accidents in India saw a spike in 2021 after a 13 per cent drop in 2020. The number of people killed in road accidents in 2021 was the highest in the past five years.

Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu reported the highest number of people losing their lives in road accidents in 2021.

In 2021, 153,972 people lost their lives in road accidents in the country. In pandemic-hit 2020, the number of people killed in road accidents stood at 131,714, which was lower than the 151,113, 151,417, and 147,913 deaths in 2019, 2018, and 2017, respectively, Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, told Rajya Sabha in a reply.

In 2021, Uttar Pradesh reported the highest number of road accident deaths at 21,227, followed by Tamil Nadu (15,384), Maharashtra (13,528), Madhya Pradesh (12,057), Karnataka (10,038), Andhra Pradesh (8,186), Bihar (7,660), Telangana (7,557), Gujarat (7,452), and West Bengal (5,800). 


Tamil Nadu reported 16,869 accidents on national highways in 2021. The number of pedestrians killed in road accidents during the year stood at 3,647, the highest during 2018–2021 . Though Uttar Pradesh continued to report the highest number of road accident deaths among the States, Tamil Nadu remained in the second or third position during 2017–2021. “Over-speeding is the biggest factor causing the maximum number of accidents and deaths in the State,” according to findings.

While industry representatives reckon that increased travel in the post- Covid era could have led to a higher number of accidents and deaths, FIR data received from various States/UTs pointed out that road fatalities occurred due to multiple causes such as overspeeding, use of mobile phone, drunken driving/consumption of alcohol and drug, driving on wrong side/ lane indiscipline, jumping red light, non-use of safety devices, vehicular condition, weather, road condition, etc,

In a recent interaction, RC Bhargava, Chairman of Maruti Suzuki India, pointed out that poor vehicle fitness regimes and driving errors are the major causes of accidents. A lot of accidents happen on the road due to the failure of some systems in the vehicles, and there is no law or regulation to ensure vehicles on the road are compliant with safety features. Also, there is no strong focus on driver training and the licensing process like in other countries.

Meanwhile, the Union Road Transport and Highways Ministry has taken several initiatives to reduce road accidents. It has implemented an electronic Detailed Accident Report (e-DAR) application, a central repository for reporting, management, and analysis of road accident data, to undertake timely interventions for improving road safety across the country.

The Ministry has sanctioned a Centre of Excellence for Road Safety at IIT-Madras with the basic aim of creating an intelligent and safe transportation system, planning data-driven road safety initiatives, conducting human factor research in road safety, and sharing knowledge with the stakeholders.