By: Damini Mehta
Sustained economic growth, subsequent rise in incomes coupled with better road infrastructure and increased reliance on personal transportation have led to a greater use of road transportation in India. With the entry of online shopping and super fast deliveries as a norm in big cities like Delhi, vehicle density, calculated by number of vehicles per kilometer of road length, has seen a massive jump in the last few years with a disproportionate increase in two-wheeler usage. Vehicle registration and ownership figures indicate a consistent rise over the years with 32.6 crore registered vehicles in India as on 31st March 2020. Between 2010 and 2020, registered motor vehicles in India grew at a compounded annual growth rate of 9.8 per cent. This jump in vehicle ownership has come at a major cost as is revealed by a recent Ministry of Road Transport and Highways’ report titled ‘Road Accidents in India 2022’.
The report analyzes road accidents, injuries, and fatalities across states and UTs in India by absolute numbers and across categories like type of road, type of vehicle and on the basis of the population size amongst others. According to the report, in the list of one-million plus population cities, Delhi ranks at the top across all three categories recording the highest number of accidents, injuries and fatalities in 2022. A total of 5,652 road accidents occured in Delhi in 2022, a jump of 19.7 per cent since 2021. 5,201 persons were injured in these accidents whereas 1,461 people lost their lives.
Interestingly, two-wheelers accounted for the highest share of total accidents in million plus cities in 2022 at 42.9 per cent. Delhi recorded 2,280 accidents involving two-wheelers leading to 551 deaths. With two-wheelers forming the largest share of registered vehicles in India at 74.7%, this number is hardly shocking. However, the highest share of deaths in Delhi were caused amongst pedestrians who were involved in 2,234 accidents leading to 629 people losing their lives.
Delhi topping the list of million plus cities with the maximum number of road accident deaths reported in the two-wheelers category indicates the dangers of rising two-wheeler registration and usage on Delhi’s roads, a factor which is often related to the jump in ‘delivery boys’ over two-wheelers on Delhi roads. In March 2021, the total number of motor vehicles on Delhi’s roads stood at 1.22 core of which two-wheelers accounted for 67 per cent. 28 per cent of the registered vehicles were car and jeeps.
According to the National Family Health Survey 2019, 19.4% households in Delhi owned a vehicle. According to another study done by the Delhi Directorate of Economics and Statistics between November of 2018 and 2019 of the 20.05 lakh Delhi households surveyed, nearly 52 per cent had personal vehicles, of which 40 per cent possessed only two-wheelers.
Vehicle ownership is likely to increase manifold as per capita incomes rise and more households move towards vehicle ownership in the coming years. An increasing reliance on personal transportation over public modes coupled with a rising aspiration of lower and middle income households, who mostly enter vehicle ownership with two wheelers, calls for improved road safety measures to make road transportation safer for riders across categories.