Amid concerns in Rajya Sabha over rising death toll in road accidents, government today said it intends to reduce the casualties by the half in the next five years through a number of measures like providing AC cabins to truck drivers and creating access-controlled expressways.
Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari told the House that a number of safety measures are being taken up to minimise accidents while increasing the length of National Highways from 96000 kms to 2 lakh kms.
Responding to a query, he said in 2014, the number of people killed in road accidents was 1,39,671 and many of these were because of deficiencies in design.
“We will bring down the number of deaths in road accidents by 50 percent,” the minister said.
He said his ministry has identified 726 ‘blackspots’ which would be set right at a cost of Rs 11,000 crore.
Work for four-laning of two-lane highways will also be taken up, he said, adding ambulances have also been placed on highways.
He also appreciated a member’s suggestion regarding setting up Trauma Centres.
Figures show that after a slight reduction in the number of persons killed in road accident in 2013, it again went up by over 20000 in 2014.
While a total of 1,42, 485 persons were killed in road accidents in 2011, it was 1,38,258 in 2012. There was a slight decline in 2013 with the death toll pegged at 1,37,572. 2014 saw a rise with 1,39,671 persons having lost their life in road accidents.
With the objective of reducing the number of road accidents, Centre has decided to make air-conditioning mandatory in the driver’s cabin of trucks, Gadkari said.
“Making truck drivers’ cabins airconditioned will be made mandatory as they drive up to 12 hours at a stretch at times,” he said.
This is necessary, he said, because due to sweltering heat in their cabins the drivers lose their mental equilibrium, which at times leads to mishaps.
The Transport Minister also admitted that around 30 percent driving licences in the country were bogus.
“This is a country where license can be procured most easily. This is discredit and not credit,” he said.
Gadkari recalled that when a health check up of drivers in Maharashtra was carried out, 40 percent of them were found to be suffering with cataract.