In a bid to reduce accidents by 50 per cent, the government will spend Rs 11,000 crore in the next five years to fix black spots across the country. It will also set up the Road Safety Authority to reduce the number of accidents on Indian roads.
"The government has identified around 726 spots spread across the country," said Nitin Gadkari, Union minister for road, transport and highways.
India leads the world in road accident deaths, with 138,000 people being killed each year. The country also accounts for 10 per cent of global road accident deaths. According to a road ministry report, the number of accidents in India was 489,400 in 2014.
On an average, 56 road accidents occur and 16 lives are lost every hour in India. Youth in the age group of 15-24 years comprise 33 per cent of the total fatalities.
According to officials, the proposal to set up the Road Safety Authority has gone to the Expenditure Finance Committee; once it gives green signal, the proposal will be placed before the Union Cabinet. After the Cabinet approves, the proposed authority will start functioning. Besides government functionaries, the Authority will include different stakeholders, non-governmental organisations, journalists, among others.
Gadkari said, "India witnesses around 500,000 road accidents each year and 150,000 deaths. Road accidents cause annual loss of Rs 55,000-60,000 crore, or three per cent of the GDP, to the country. There are many problems and the main reason is the ease with which one can obtain a driving licence. We are going to form new driving centres where computerised tests would be carried out and driving licences issued on that basis."
According to him, nearly 30 per cent of the driving licences in use might be fake. He added steps would also be taken to improve road engineering by introducing underpasses, flyovers etc at accident-prone spots. The total length of national highways in India will be raised to 150,000 km from 96,000 km.
"The ministry has decided to convert highways with 10,000 passenger car units (PCU) to a four-lane facility against the current norm of 15,000 PCU. Likewise, six- and eight-lane highways will be set up where the PCU demands so," he said.