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India's GDP takes a 3 per cent hit every year due to road accidents, equivalent to over USD 58 billion in value terms, a United Nations (UN) study has found out.
Conducted by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), the study says that in value terms, the country is behind Japan among the 19 countries covered in the Asia-Pacific region.
"Indian economy takes a 3 per cent hit every year due to road traffic accidents, which is over USD 58,000 million in terms of value," the study said.
"The total loss to GDP to these nations is to the tune of USD 2,93,568 million annually," UNESCAP Chief of Transport Policy and Development Section Peter O'Neill said.
He was speaking at a three-day conference organised by the Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE) here.
Expressing concern over the high rate of road accident fatalities in India, O'Neill called for better policies and stricter enforcement of regulations to promote road safety of road users, particularly two-wheeler users.
In the Asia-Pacific, one person is killed on the road every 40 seconds, which means 15,000 lives per week, he said adding that "to avoid this, we need road safety management, safer roads, safer vehicles and better post-crash response mechanism".
IRTE President Rohit Baluja said there are rules that make use of helmets mandatory, but "very few" two-wheeler users take it seriously.
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As a result, India accounts for over 36,000 motorcycle deaths annually, which is mainly due to non-use of helmets, he said quoting a latest study published by the United Nations.
While there has been good progress till date in the UNECE region to bring down road fatalities, the estimated number of deaths worldwide shows no overall reduction (about 1.25 million deaths worldwide), the statement said.
"This means that fatalities have increased in countries outside of UNECE. Moreover, overall vehicle traffic is forecast to increase particularly in low and middle income countries where United Nations road safety legal instruments are generally not well known and used," it added.
Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has made cutting down road accident fatalities as one of the major programmes of his ministry.
India at present accounts for one of the highest number of road accidents across the globe at about 5 lakh per annum in which 1.5 lakh people die and another 3 lakh are crippled.