NEW DELHI: At least 166 people die in road accidents caused due to speeding, a trend that indicates how there is little check on driving beyond the permitted speed limit on Indian roads. The number of fatalities is higher if the crashes caused due to speeding and drunk driving is clubbed together. According to government statistics, at least 68,000 people were killed in such crashes with speeding only claiming 60,700 lives in 2012, though Delhi reported only eight such deaths.

National level data is available till 2012. The report prepared by the transport research wing of road transport ministry based on FIRs shows that states known for having better quality roads report more number of such accidents. While Maharashtra topped the list among states with at least 8,600 fatalities, Tamil Nadu reported second highest deaths due to speeding. The other states, which registered more such fatalities, are Rajasthan, Karnataka and Gujarat.

What is all the more worrying is that such crashes leave lakhs injured. The government report mentions that about 2.38 lakh people were injured in speeding cases in 2012 while their number is around 23,400 in the case of crashes caused due to drunk driving. There are no data on how many of the severely injured die in hospitals or at homes months after the crashes.

Globally, speeding, drunk driving and non-wearing of helmet and seat belt are the three major contributing factors to growing number of crashes and fatalities.

While city police do conduct speed surveillance on certain stretches there is little enforcement on National Highways, state highways and other roads outside urban limits. “What to talk of enforcement? There are many states, which have not yet notified the maximum speed limit on their roads,” said Rohit Baluja, a road safety expert and president of Institute for Road Traffic Education (IRTE).

Admitting that enforcement of rules is the biggest challenge to make roads safe and discipline the drivers, a transport ministry official said that to begin with police in different cities and towns should take up pilot stretches where 100% traffic violations can be detected by using CCTV cameras. “Until people have the fear that they will be caught even for a minor violation, there will be little fear of law or fines,” he added.

Meanwhile, the commitment of law makers to make roads safer has been exposed as the Lok Sabha did not pass the amendments in Motor Vehicle Act in the past two years even after the Bill was cleared by Rajya Sabha. The Bill proposed hiking the fine for speeding from meagre Rs 400 to Rs 1,000 for the first offence and Rs 5,000 for repeated offences To check drunk driving the Bill proposed grading of fine and penalty according to alcohol levels in the blood. The punishment could go up to a two-year jail term and Rs 5,000 fine or both.