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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1-6

National statistics of road traffic accidents in India

Department of Community and Family Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India

Date of Web Publication23-Sep-2013

Correspondence Address:
Manisha Ruikar
Department of Community and Family Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Tatibandh, GE Road, Raipur - 492 099, Chhattisgarh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0975-7341.118718

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National reports published annually by Transport Research Wing of the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways and National Crimes Records Bureau of Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India describe national statistical trends and normalized indicators of road accidents, injuries & fatalities. This article highlights trends, indicators, interstate comparisons and the latest characteristics of road traffic accidents in India. While the official road traffic fatality data may be close to the actual number, the injury data are gross underestimates. As per bibliometric analysis, India contributed only 0.7 per cent papers on road traffic injuries and had less than one article on road traffic injuries per 1,000 road traffic related deaths. To be effective, policies on injury prevention and safety must be based on local evidence and research. Health professionals and their professional bodies across wide disciplines need to take an initiative for the same with active commitment.

Keywords: National statistics, road traffic accidents, road traffic injuries, road traffic fatalities

How to cite this article:
Ruikar M. National statistics of road traffic accidents in India. J Orthop Traumatol Rehabil 2013;6:1-6

How to cite this URL:
Ruikar M. National statistics of road traffic accidents in India. J Orthop Traumatol Rehabil [serial online] 2013 [cited 2023 Mar 27];6:1-6. Available from: https://www.jotr.in/text.asp?2013/6/1/1/118718

  Introduction Top

A Road Traffic Accident (RTA) can be defined as, 'An event that occurs on a way or street open to public traffic; resulting in one or more persons being injured or killed, where at least one moving vehicle is involved. Thus RTA is a collision between vehicles; between vehicles and pedestrians; between vehicles and animals; or between vehicles and geographical or architectural obstacles.' Road traffic accidents are a human tragedy. They involve high human suffering and socioeconomic costs in terms of premature deaths, injuries, loss of productivity, and so on. [1]

During 2008, Road Traffic Injuries (RTI) ranked fourth among the leading causes of death in the world. [2] Nearly 1.3 million people die every year on the world's roads and 20 to 50 million people suffer non-fatal injuries, with many sustaining a disability as a result of their injury. [3] Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among young people aged 15-29 years and cost countries 1-3% of the gross domestic product (GDP). [3],[4]

Ninety-one percent of the world's fatalities on the roads occur in low-income and middle-income countries, even though these countries have approximately half of the world's vehicles. Half of those dying on the world's roads are 'vulnerable road users': Pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. Only 28 countries, representing 416 million people (7% of the world's population), have adequate laws that address all five behavioural risk factors (speed, drink-driving, helmets, seat-belts, and child restraints). If no action is taken, road traffic crashes are predicted to result in the deaths of around 1.9 million people annually by 2020. [4] Hence the goal of the United Nations' Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011- 2020 is to save five million lives. [5]

In India, the motor vehicle population is growing at a faster rate than the economic and population growth. The surge in motorization coupled with expansion of the road network has brought with it the challenge of addressing adverse factors such as the increase in road accidents. [1] According to the World Health Organization (WHO), road traffic injuries are the sixth leading cause of death in India with a greater share of hospitalization, deaths, disabilities and socio-economic losses in the young and middle-aged population. [6] Road traffic injuries also place a huge burden on the health sector in terms of pre-hospital and acute care and rehabilitation. [7]

National data of road traffic accidents


'Road Accidents in India' is an annual publication of the Transport Research Wing of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India. The Transport Research Wing is the nodal agency for providing information data on various facets of roads and road transport. This report presents information on various aspects of road accidents in the country during the calendar year. The information is collected from the Police Departments of the respective States/Union Territories (UTs) in the 19-item format devised under the Asia Pacific Road Accident Data (APRAD)/Indian Road Accident Data (IRAD) project of the United Nations' Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP). [1]

'Road Transport Year Book' is another annual publication of the Transport Research Wing of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India. The Transport Research Wing collects and compiles data on the registered motor vehicles from States/UTs and presents the information in this report. [8]

'Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India' is an annual publication of the National Crime Records Bureau of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. This report contains comprehensive statistics on a range of aspects with regard to deaths due to accidents and suicides. The National Crime Records Bureau only compiles and collates the data obtained through the State/UT Police and presents the information in the form of this report. [9]

These reports fulfil a wide variety of data requirements of all the stakeholders like policy makers, police leadership at various levels, transport departments, road safety professionals, researchers, academia, media, NGOs and others.

National statistical trends in road accidents, injuries and fatalities

Expansion in the road network, a surge in motorization and the rising population in the country contribute toward the increasing numbers of road accidents, road accident injuries and road accident fatalities. The road network in India, the numbers of registered motor vehicles in the country and the country's population have increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.4%, 9.9% and 1.6% respectively, during the decade 2001 to 2011. During the same period, the number of road accidents in the country increased at a CAGR of 2.1%. Similarly, the number of road accident fatalities and the number of persons injured in road accidents in the country between 2001 and 2011 increased by 5.8% and 2.4% respectively. [1]

Even as the CAGR of the number of accidents and the number of road accident injuries has moderated during the decade 2001 to 2011, as compared to the previous decade 1991 to 2001, there has been a spurt in the CAGR of the number of road accident fatalities during the latter period. [1]

Between 1970 and 2011, the number of accidents increased 4.4 times accompanied with 9.8 times increase in fatalities and 7.3 times increase in the number of persons injured, against the backdrop of more than a 100-fold increase in the number of registered motor vehicles and close to a four-fold increase in the road network. [1]

During 2011, a total of 4,97,686 road accidents were reported by all States/UTs [Figure 1]. The proportion of fatal accidents in the total road accidents has consistently increased since 2002 from 18.1 to 24.4% in 2011. The severity of road accidents measured in terms of persons killed per 100 accidents has also increased from 20.8 in 2002 to 28.6 in 2011[Table 1]. [1]
Figure 1: Total number of road accidents, persons killed, and persons injured during 2002-2011

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Table 1: Number of road accidents and number of persons Involved: 2002 to 2011

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Road accident cases in the country have marginally decreased by 0.02% during 2012, while the casualties in road accidents in the country have increased by 1.3% during 2012; as compared to 2011. [9]

Normalized indicators of road accidents, injuries and fatalities

All India averages

To get an appropriate measure of the incidence of accidents, the normalized/standardized accident rates for India have been worked out in terms of the number of accidents/injuries/fatalities (a) per lakh persons (b) per ten thousand motor vehicles and (c) per ten thousand kilometres of road length.

A significant decline in the number of accidents per ten thousand motor vehicles is discernible from 814.4 in 1970 to 35.1 in 2011.

There has been more than a three-fold increase in the number of persons injured per lakh of population from 13 in 1970 to 42.3 in 2011, while persons killed per lakh of population jumped four-fold from 2.7 in 1970 to 11.8 in 2011. Exposure of population to road accidents leading to deaths and injuries largely depends on the amount of travel undertaken, defined as the number of trips, the distance traveled or time in the road environment, number of motor vehicles and the amount of motorized traffic, and so on.

As regards the number of persons injured and killed per 10,000 vehicles the decline has been dramatic. To some extent, the decline in this parameter has been brought about by improvement in vehicle crashworthiness and occupant protection. The number of persons injured per 10,000 vehicles has declined from 500 in 1970 to 36 in 2011. Similarly, the number of persons killed per 10,000 vehicles in the country has also fallen from about 104 in 1970 to 10 in 2011 [Figure 2]. [1]
Figure 2: Number of persons killed per ten thousand vehicles during 1970-2011

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The rate of deaths per thousand vehicles has decreased marginally from 1.3 in 2008 to 1.0 in 2012, even as the number of vehicles in the country has increased by 58.3% and the quantum of road accidents has increased by 5.8% during the same period. [9]

Inter-state comparisons

[Table 2] provides a share of the top five States in India with regard to the total number of road accidents, persons killed, and persons injured in road accidents against a backdrop of their share in India's motor vehicle population. [1]
Table 2: All India share of select states (in %): road accidents, injuries, deaths and registered motor vehicles: 2008 to 2011

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During the calendar year 2012, Tamil Nadu has reported the maximum number of road accidents (67,757) accounting for 15.4% of such accidents in the country. Although Maharashtra had the highest number of registered vehicles in the country, the highest number of deaths due to road accidents during the years were reported in Tamil Nadu (11.6%) followed by Uttar Pradesh (10.9%), Andhra Pradesh (10.8%) and Maharashtra (10.0%). The rate of accidental deaths per thousand vehicles was highest in Bihar and West Bengal at 1.9 each followed by Himachal Pradesh (1.8), Andhra Pradesh (1.5) and Jammu and Kashmir (1.5) as compared to 1.0 at the national level. The rate of deaths per 100 cases of road accidents was the highest in Nagaland (133.3), followed by Punjab (75.8) and Mizoram (70.0) as compared to 31.6 at the national level. The deaths in Jammu and Kashmir, Nagaland, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, due to road accidents were reported to be 69.6, 67.5, 53.5 and 51.9% respectively. [9]

The term 'mega city' refers to cities that have a population of at least 10 lakhs as per the Population Census of 2011. The highest cases of road accidents were reported in Chennai (9,663), which resulted into 8,628 injuries and 1,401 deaths, followed by Delhi (city) (5,865 cases, 5,563 injuries and 1,527 deaths) and Bengaluru (5,508 cases, 4,527 injuries and 725 deaths), among the 53 mega cities. However, 97.6% accidental deaths in Lucknow followed by 81.2% accidental deaths in Asansol were due to road traffic accidents. [9]

Latest characteristics of road traffic accidents in India

Classification of Roads: National Highways accounted for 30.1% of the total road accidents and 37.1% of the total number of persons killed in 2011. State Highways accounted for 24.6% of the total accidents and a share of 27.4 % of the total number of persons killed in road accidents in 2011. [1]

Spatial distribution: In 2011, the total number of accidents that occurred in rural areas (53.5%) was more than that in the urban areas (46.5%). Rural areas had more fatalities (63.4%) than urban areas (36.6 %). The number of persons injured was also more in rural areas (59.4 %), as compared to urban areas (40.6 %). [1]

Age and gender of accident victims: The detailed age profile of accident victims other than the drivers, for the year 2011, revealed that the age group between 25 and 65 years accounted for the largest share, 51.9%, of total road accident casualties, followed by the age group between 15 and 24 years, with a share of 30.3%. More than half of the road traffic casualties were in the wage-earning age group. [1] Only 15% of the road accident victims were females during the calendar year 2012. [9]

Mode of Transport: During 2012, road traffic accidents shared 35.2% of the accidental deaths; 23.2% of the victims of road accidents were occupants of 'two wheelers' [Figure 3]. Although the break-up of total government and private vehicles is not available, it is pertinent to note that the majority of victims were traveling in private vehicles. During 2012, Delhi city, among the 53 mega cities, accounted for 16.1% of the deaths of pedestrians', 10.0% deaths due to car accidents and 9.5% deaths due to two wheelers. [9]
Figure 3: Road accident deaths by various modes of transport during 2012

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Month of occurrence: In 2012, the month-wise distribution of road accidents has also shown more accidents during the month of May (8.8%) followed by the month of April (8.74%) and January (8.72%), while the least number of road accidents were reported in the month of September. Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Karnataka which accounted for 15.4, 10.3% and 10.1% of road accidents in the country, respectively have also reported the maximum number of road accidents during each month of the year at the national level. [9]

Time of occurrence: In 2012, 16.7% of the cases of road accidents were reported to have occurred between 1500 hours and 1800 hours (day), followed by 16.6% between 1800 hours and 2100 hours (night) and 6.3% between 0000 hours to and 0300 hours (night). [9]

Causes: The major human factors that contribute to the potency of road accident causation include drunken drivers, indecisiveness, fatigue, distraction, and confusion. In addition, in most of the cases the drivers are found to be inexperienced, risk takers, impulsive, aggressive, casual and unaware of the road signals. During 2011, driver's fault (77.5%) was the singlemost important factor responsible for accidents, as revealed by an analysis of road accident data by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. [10]

Limitations of the available statistics Details of traffic crashes are not available at the national level. Even as the official road traffic fatality data may be close to the actual number, the injury data are gross underestimates. [11]

Underreporting of RTIs is a serious and global problem. [12]

In addition to the above-mentioned national reports, findings of independent hospital and population-based research studies related to road traffic accidents in India are also available. [13],[14],[15],[16],[17],[18],[19],[20],[21],[22]

The spectrum of injuries from road crashes varies from instant death to those requiring only first aid. The most common sources of RTI data are from police and hospitals. The majority of deaths are reported to the police due to their medicolegal nature, prosecution concerns, and compensation needs. A few deaths and a majority of injuries are not reported to the police due to several reasons. A study in Bangalore compared police and hospital deaths and found underreporting of 5% for deaths and more than 50% for serious injuries. [23]

Another study from rural Haryana estimated the ratio of serious:moderate:minor injuries to be 1: 29:69. [21] Even though every healthcare institution provides care for RTI patients, details of RTIs are not clearly available, due to the poor information system. Hence, the real problem is likely to be much higher than the reported figures. [12] The limited studies in India reveal that 2050% of the Emergency Room registration and 1030% of admissions are due to RTIs. Information on this aspect is lacking from district and rural areas. [12]

  Conclusions Top

A bibliometric analysis was done to document injury literature published in low- and middle-income countries, and also to quantify literature on road traffic injuries by countries before and after the World Health Day on Road Safety celebrated in April 2004. On neoplasm there were 280 articles published per million population, whereas, for road traffic injuries, the rate was four-fold articles per million population. India, the second-most populous country in the world, contributed only 0.7% articles on road traffic injuries and had less than one article on road traffic injuries per 1,000 road traffic-related deaths. The percentage of change in articles on road traffic injuries for the period 2004-2007 in comparison to period 2001-2004 was +118for India. [24]

To be effective, policies on injury prevention and safety in developing countries must be based on local evidence and research, and designed to suit the social, political, and economic circumstances found in developing countries. As a result, strategies to increase research itself must develop alongside steps to stimulate policymakers and practitioners to demand and use research evidence. [24]

Strengthening and undertaking research on the public health burden and impact, understanding the risk factors, characteristics of trauma, and measuring the impact of interventions through well-designed public health and clinical research methods (trauma registry, surveillance programs, hospital- and population-based studies etc.) is the need of the hour. Health professionals and their professional bodies across wide disciplines need to take an initiative for the same, with active commitment. [12]

  References Top

1.Transport Research Wing, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. Road Accidents in India 2011. New Delhi: Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India; 2012.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.World Health Organization. Estimates of mortality by causes for WHO member states for the year 2008 summary tables. Geneva: WHO; 2011.   Back to cited text no. 2
3.United Nations Decade of action for road safety 2011-2020. Available from: http:// www.decadeofaction.org [Last accessed on 2013 Jul 15].   Back to cited text no. 3
4.World Health Organisation. Road Traffic Injuries Fact Sheet N 0 358, March 2013. Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs358/en/ [Last accessed on 2013 Jul 15].   Back to cited text no. 4
5.United Nations Road Safety Collaboration. Available from: http://www.who.int/roadsafety/en [Last accessed on 2013 Jul 15].   Back to cited text no. 5
6.Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Integrated Disease Surveillance Project- Project Implementation Plan 2004-2009. New Delhi: Government of India; 2004:1-18.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Gururaj G. Road traffic injury prevention in India. Bangalore: National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, 2006; Publication No 56.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Transport Research Wing, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. Status paper on road safety in India 2010. New Delhi: Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India; 2010.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.National Crimes Records Bureau. Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India 2012. New Delhi: Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India; 2013.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India; 20 th October 2011  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Mohan D. Road accidents in India. IATSS Res 2009;33:75-9.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Gururaj G. Road traffic deaths, injuries and disabilities in India: Current scenario. Natl Med J India 2008;21:14-20.   Back to cited text no. 12
13.Kuchewar SV, Meshram RD, Gadge SJ. Demographic study and medico-legal aspect of fatal road traffic accident in Aurangabad. J Life Sci 2012;4:7-10.   Back to cited text no. 13
14.Khan MK, Hanif SA, Husain M, Huda MF, Sabri I. Pattern of non-fatal head injury in adult cases reported at J.N.M.C. Hospital, A.M U, Aligarh. Indian Acad Forensic Med 2011;33:21-3.  Back to cited text no. 14
15.Fitzharris M, Dandona R, Kumar GA, Dandona L. Crash characteristics and patterns of injury among hospitalized motorised two-wheeled vehicle users in urban India. BMC Public Health 2009;9:11.   Back to cited text no. 15
16.Sarangi L, Parhi L, Parida RK, Panda P. A Study on epidemiological factors associated with road traffic accidents presenting to the casualty of a private hospital in Bhubaneswar. Indian J Community Med 2009;5.  Back to cited text no. 16
17.Dandona R, Kumar GA, Raj TS, Dandona L. Patterns of road traffic injuries in a vulnerable population in Hyderabad, India. Inj Prev 2006;12:183-8.  Back to cited text no. 17
18.Verma PK, Tewari KN. Epidemiology of road traffic injuries in Delhi: Result of a survey. Regional Health Forum WHO South-East Asia Region 2004;8.  Back to cited text no. 18
19.Shrinivas PL. Studies undertaken to identify critical causes of accidents in the highways of Tamil Nadu. Indian Highways 2004;31:11-22.  Back to cited text no. 19
20.Jha N, Srinivasa DK, Roy G, Jagadish S. Injury pattern among road traffic accident cases: A study from south India. Indian J Community Med 2003;28:85-90.   Back to cited text no. 20
  Medknow Journal  
21.Varghese M, Mohan D. Transportation injuries in rural Haryana, North India. In: Proceedings of the International Conference on Traffic Safety. New Delhi: Macmillan India 2003; p. 326-9.   Back to cited text no. 21
22.Gururaj G. Epidemiology of road accidents and head injuries in Bangalore. Bangalore: National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Sciences 2001.   Back to cited text no. 22
23.Gururaj G, Thomas A, Reddi MN. Underreporting of road traffic injuries in Banglore: Implications for road safety policies and programmes. In: Proceedings of the 5 th World conference on injury prevention and control. New Delhi: Macmillan India; 2000.   Back to cited text no. 23
24.Borse NN, Hyder AA. Call for more research on injury from the developing world: Results of a bibliometric analysis. Indian J Med Res 2009;129:321-6.  Back to cited text no. 24
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  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]

  [Table 1], [Table 2]

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