- The crashes resulted in 140 deaths
- Nine states account for 100 of the 140 deaths recorded
- 30 percent of the casualties were migrants returning home
With the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak necessitating a nationwide lockdown, road traffic in India has seen a dramatic drop. Most prefer to stay indoors, only venturing out to buy essentials and for medical reasons, but despite a majority of the population not getting behind the wheel, India recorded over 600 road crashes in the first two phases of the lockdown.
According to a report by the SaveLife Foundation – which is working to further the cause of road safety in the country – there were over 600 crashes between March 24 and May 3, resulting in 140 deaths. Of those, over 100 of those deaths were recorded in nine states alone – Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat, Assam, Kerala, Karnataka, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan. The cause of most of these crashes was overspeeding, the report adds.
A deeper dive into the statistics reveals 57 percent of the deaths were of those who were driving, and 30 percent were of migrants trying to make their way back home. With interstate travel prohibited during the lockdown, scores of stranded migrant workers were forced to either make the journey back home on foot or find someone willing to drive them home. In another tragic revelation, the report goes on to state that the casualties include essential service providers and doctors who were travelling to or from their place of work.
The report also says that while there's been a clear drop in absolute road fatalities during the lockdown with the masses staying off the roads, the rate of deaths in road crashes continues to be the same as before. It goes on to stress the importance of state governments prioritising road safety in the Standard Operating Protocols for interstate travel at a time when the healthcare system in the country is already overwhelmed by the steady rise in COVID-19 cases.