It was an important call! I was speaking with a friend and saw the red signal. The countdown timer at the signal was showing 10 seconds and I had 50 meters to cross. The traffic guard on my left was watching the growling traffic ready to kickstart their engines, some of the bikers had already started their engine and ready to roll. I looked up again at the timer and it was down to five seconds then. The decision was to be taken in a whisker, whether to cross the road immediately. Normally in these situations, I never try to cross but on that day not sure why, I decided to cross the road. My instinct said cross and I started crossing with my phone conversation on.
Immediately I started hearing honks from all the vehicles. Honking that would deafen any pedestrian and there was no going back from that situation. I had to cross the road.
In India, road safety norms are the most abused one. If any westerner read this they may think that it is natural from any vehicle driver to stop until the pedestrian crossing the road, but in India, there is no guarantee of that. I admit that it was my fault indeed by deciding to cross and I was completely responsible for my fate that day.
I had just walked a few steps when I heard vehicles running behind and others in front of me just waiting for me to cross their line. There was no going back from that point, there was only one way forward, going ahead and probably take the risk of being hit by a vehicle.
I was lucky that day as the vehicles in front of me didn’t start till the time I crossed their line. We have avoided one possible deadly accident on the roads of Hyderabad that day. My instinct didn’t put me down.
In India, according to accident statistics we find –
- 456 deaths and 1300 injuries happen every day due to traffic accidents
- 377 deaths and 1287 injuries per day due to road accidents
- 80 deaths and 13 injuries per day happen due to railroad accident
- 66 and 94 deaths happen per day respectively due to truck/lorry and two-wheelers
Every day, I thank god that I am still alive amidst these overwhelming figures of road accidents in India.
It is interesting to note in 9% of cases pedestrians was responsible for road accidents. I could just add to that figure last year.
When it comes to road safety in India, breaking the rule is the rule in some cities. Some westerners visiting our cities get amazed to see the skill level or desperate driving attempts by some of our two-wheeler drivers. No wonder why they top the list of accidental deaths in India.
In India according to NCRB data, 85% of road accident victims are men in the year 2012. This figure is other than the drivers of the vehicles. Men being out on the streets most of the time for the purpose of earning food for their families need to suffer the misfortune yet this data not regretted or highlighted anywhere. In 2013, a total of 1,17, 055 men have died of road accidents compared to 20, 368 women.
It is not that we do not have enough awareness regarding road safety in India, but our road condition, absence of traffic guards, absence of traffic signal and many times the pedestrians themselves cause accidents even though the blame goes to the motorist.
Even though we can talk volume to curtail our road accidents I will request the pedestrians to be cautious too among other standard safety tips for the motorist – like wear safety belts, limit driving speeds, don’t put glaring headlights on while driving within the city as that troubles the drivers of the vehicles coming from the opposite side, don’t honk unnecessarily as that distracts pedestrians, don’t drink and drive, don’t take phone calls while driving etc.
Indian pedestrians need to be more responsible. The instinct that worked for me, may not work for everyone else. Hence pedestrians also need to be careful while crossing the road, look around, stop if a vehicle is coming and most importantly don’t take that call when crossing the road.
In my opinion, there needs to be a fine for the pedestrians too for breaking traffic rules. I am not sure if we already have this in place, if not sure we need one such rule because in order to save one such irresponsible pedestrian motorists may hit some others and cause a bigger accident. So this year for the Nissan Safety Driving Forum campaign my message to everyone will follow the rules not only for yourself or your family members but for others as well. Consider this as a social issue rather than only a law and order issue. When we bring in the human touch to road safety we will surely achieve more.