Road safety should be taken up on priority by the Government

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Union Minister for Rural Development Gopinath Munde died in a road accident on his way to the airport in New Delhi.

We have witnessed deaths of prominent politicians in road accidents in previous years.

Former Delhi CM and Union labour minister Sahib Singh Verma died in a road accident in 2007 on the highway while returning to Delhi from Jaipur.
In 2000, senior Congress leader Rajesh Pilot died in a road accident in Dausa, about 50 km from Jaipur.
In 1994, former President, Giani Zail Singh died following a car crash on the Fatehgarh Sahib–Chandigarh highway.
All these politicians died within a radius of 250 km. Their deaths were sudden and unexpected.

Postmortem report suggests that Gopinath Munde died of cervical cord injury and liver injury with collection of blood in the peritoneal cavity.

The cervical “whiplash” syndrome is caused by a traumatic event with an abrupt flexion/extension movement to the cervical spine. Symptoms of whiplash include severe neck pain, spasm, loss of range of motion in the neck i.e. unable to move your neck or turn your head and headache, especially at the back of the head (occipital headache).

The most common causes of spinal cord injury are trauma; car accidents being the most common, either when a person is riding as a passenger in the car or is struck as a pedestrian followed by falls, sports accidents, assault.

Generally, the higher up the level of the injury to the spinal cord, the more severe the symptoms. Cervical cord injury is fatal only when fracture occurs at C1 and C2.

If politicians too are not immune to road traffic accidents, then what about the general public? This means that the general public is not safe.

The growth in the economy of India has seen an almost parallel and an impressive rise in the number of vehicles on the roads. And this number keeps on increasing daily, which translates into greater risk of accidents, increased pollution etc. India has a poor record of road safety with one of the highest road traffic accident rates in the world.

In The Global status report on road safety 2013, the WHO has cited road traffic injuries as the eighth leading cause of death globally. By the year 2030, road traffic deaths are projected to become the fifth leading cause of death unless urgent action is taken.

The major contributing factors to this high road traffic accident rate are speeding, drunk driving, lack of use of safety helmets, seat belts and child restraints in vehicles. Inefficient law enforcement has only compounded the problem.

Road traffic accidents are a preventable cause of disability and death.

There is an urgent need for the government to formulate and enforce legislation to address these major causes of road accidents.
Enforcement of speed limits, laws related to drunken driving is essential.
Wearing a seat belt for drivers, the front seat occupants as well as the rear seat occupants should be made compulsory.
The road infrastructure should be made safer for vehicles and the pedestrians as well.
There should be regular and effective road safety education campaigns to develop a safe driving behavior. Distracted driving i.e. talking on the phone, texting, talking to a passenger, eating, etc. should be avoided. These activities take the driver’s attention away from the road.
The tragic death of Shri Gopinath Munde again highlights the need for an urgent and a concerted action on the part of the government and the general public.