The share of two-wheeler occupants in total accident deaths increased sharply in 2020 to 43.6% from 36% in 2019, though overall fatalities in this category saw a marginal decline from 58,747 in 2019 to 58,129 during last year. Notably, there has been a quantum jump in the share of two-wheeler riders in the total number of fatalities that has doubled in the past 10 years. This has emerged as a bigger worry amid the government’s target to cut road death by 50% in the next nine years.
The increased share seems to have a direct link to how people had to use this mode of transport in the absence or restricted operation of public transport. Significantly, the past trends also show how there has been a steady increase in the share of such occupants in total fatalities, which was 22.4% in 2011 and 29.3% in 2015.
Experts feel that the continuing threat of Coronavirus would remain one of the reasons for people to shift two-wheelers and also because this mode still remains the most convenient and affordable means of transport. The road death data of 2020 only strengthens this perception. It shows how the maximum increase in the number of two-wheeler occupants killed in crashes was in Telangana — from 3,185 in 2019 to 3,963 last year. Andhra Pradesh also reported a similar increase from 3,012 in 2019 to 3,714 during the last year. Tamil Nadu, which has always done exceptionally well during normal years, also saw a jump in such fatalities by 433 during 2020 and in Madhya Pradesh it increased from 4,732 in 2019 to 5,182 during last year.
The NCRB data also shows that the total share of vulnerable road users (VRUs) killed in 2020 was 56.5% compared to 49% in the previous year. The VRUs include pedestrians, cyclists, two-wheeler occupants and others using non-motorised transport.
While in 2019, a total of 75,814 persons under this category were killed out of the cumulative 1.55 lakh road deaths, during 2020 a total 75,361VRUs lost their lives in road crashes out of the 1.33 lakh overall road fatalities. The increasing share of VRUs in road deaths in middle- and low income countries has become a major cause of concern across the globe.
While fatalities under the non-motorised traffic category are equally a matter of concern, the NCRB data also show that despite nearly 16% reduction in overall road deaths at the national level due to Covid-induced lockdowns, there was hardly any decline in such fatalities in Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Bihar. MP reported only 191 less deaths during last year compared to 2019 and Telangana saw barely 282 less road fatalities.
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