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LUCKNOW, Jan 20: The death of 12 school kids in Etah may have caught the attention of the prime minister as well but a larger crisis goes unnoticed in Uttar Pradesh.
Data from ministry of road transport and highways, released recently, shows that with 2,610 deaths, Uttar Pradesh accounted for the highest number of child fatalities due to road accidents in 2015. In this way, road accidents kill seven children in UP everyday. Of these, onefifth suffered as pillion riders or passengers.
“The incident highlights the urgent need to promote road safety ,” said Prof Ajai Singh, chief of paediatric trauma department, King George’s Medical University. “Children below 14 suffer because an adult was not driving responsibly,” he added.
Road safety activist and founder of Shubham Soti Foundation Ashutosh Soti added that the impact of road traffic accidents is yet to be taken seriously in India. This may be gauged from the fact that road accidents account for 83.8% of all traffic-related accidents. “If reckless adults are responsible, lax policy makers are to be blamed equally , especially if you look at the law implementing systems in developed countries,” he said.
Director, operation, Save Life Foundation, Saji Cherian, called for stricter penalties for traffic offences involving children, regulation of school buses, vans and other vehicles which children use for commuting to school, and most importantly , accountability of drivers and conductors need to be defined in law and strictly enforced.
“The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill which was introduced by the government in August last year has provisions for protection of children but is languishing with the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC). We hope that the PSC submits its report at the earliest, so that Parliament passes the Bill in the upcoming Budget session,” he said.