Speed Limits and Road Accidents

In 1896, Bridget Driscoll was attending a summer fete in Crystal Palace, London, when a car travelling at a tremendous pace – somewhere under its top speed of eight miles per hour – struck and killed her. She became Britain’s first automobile fatality.

There wasn’t a big reaction. The British Parliament had just passed an act raising the speed limit to 14 miles per hour, and raised it again to a dizzying 20 miles per hour in 1903. In 1930, despite an annual death toll running into the thousands, speed limits were removed entirely. Lord Buckmaster explained the reasoning in the House of Lords two years later:

“It is sufficient to say that the reason why the speed limit was abolished was not that anybody thought the abolition would tend to the greater security of foot passengers, but that the existing speed limit was so universally disobeyed that its maintenance brought the law into contempt.”

Across the world nearly 1.3 million people die in road crashes each year, on average 3,287 deaths a day. An additional 20-50 million are injured or disabled.

In India over 1,30,000 people are killed in road accidents annually, that is more than the number of people killed in all our wars put together.

1214 road crashes occur every day in India. One deadly road accident in the country occurs every minute and 16 die on Indian roads every hour. 20 children under the age of 14 die every day due to road crashes in in the country.

The primary causes of road accidents are:

  • Distracted driving
  • Over speeding
  • Driving under influence (alcohol or drugs)
  • Reckless behaviour
  • Running red lights and stop signs
  • Unsafe lane changes
  • Wrong way driving
  • Tailgating
  • Road rage
  • Potholes
  • Drowsy driving
  • Tire blowouts
  • Street racing

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