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Fatal crashes spotlight India's luxury car woes

In 2022, authorities recorded a total of 4.61 lakh road accidents, resulting in 1.68 lakh deaths and 4.43 lakh injuries. Alarmingly, overspeeding was a major factor, contributing to 1.19 lakh of these deaths.

News Arena Network - Chandigarh - UPDATED: May 30, 2024, 01:30 AM - 5 mins read

(From top clockwise: The crashes Audi Q3 driven by DMK MLA Y Prakash's son Karunasagar Prakash, an Audi after killing a 64-year-old man in Noida, a Rolls-Royce Phantom on the Delhi-Mumbai highway after colliding with an oil tanker leaving both vehicles to ashes, the crashed Pune Porsche after killing two youths).

Fatal crashes spotlight India's luxury car woes

(Clockwise from top: The crashes Audi Q3 driven by DMK MLA Y Prakash's son Karunasagar Prakash, an Audi after killing a 64-year-old man in Noida, a Rolls-Royce Phantom on the Delhi-Mumbai highway after colliding with an oil tanker leaving both vehicles to ashes, the crashed Pune Porsche after killing two youths).


In the pre-dawn hours of May 19, the bustling city of Pune was jolted by a tragic incident that claimed the lives of two IT professionals, Anish Awadhiya and Ashwini Kostha.

 

The pair, traversing the city on a motorcycle, were fatally struck by an overspeeding Porsche allegedly driven by a 17-year-old boy under the influence of alcohol.

 

This accident casts a harsh light on the recurring dangers posed by high-speed luxury cars and reckless driving on Indian roads.

 

The grim episode in Pune echoes a broader, troubling pattern of fatal accidents involving high-performance vehicles.

 

Just two days prior, on May 16, Noida witnessed a similar catastrophe. A speeding BMW collided with an e-rickshaw at 6 am, killing two, including a nurse, and injuring three others.

 

The morning of May 26 saw another life snuffed out in Noida when an Audi struck Janak Dev Shah, a 64-year-old man crossing the road for milk.

 

The driver fled the scene, leaving behind a stark reminder of the perils pedestrians face daily.

 

In Uttar Pradesh's Gautam Buddh Nagar district alone, official data reveal a staggering 1,176 road accidents in the previous year, resulting in 470 deaths and 858 injuries. The statistics for 2022 were scarcely better, with 437 deaths and 856 injuries recorded.

 

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways' report, "Road Accidents in India 2022," lays bare the dire state of road safety nationwide.

 

The year saw 4.61 lakh road accidents, leading to 1.68 lakh deaths and 4.43 lakh injuries. Alarmingly, overspeeding was a significant factor, contributing to 1.19 lakh deaths.

 

August of the previous year brought a horrific accident in Haryana's Nuh. A Rolls Royce Phantom, reportedly speeding at nearly 230 kmph, collided with a petrol tanker on the Delhi-Mumbai expressway.

 

Despite the tanker being on the wrong side, the immense speed of the luxury car played a crucial role in the ensuing tragedy, killing both occupants of the truck on impact.

 

Piyush Tewari, a road safety advocate and founder of the NGO SaveLIFE Foundation, attributes the increasing frequency of such accidents to India's flawed licensing system.

 

"Currently, if you have an LMV license, you can drive anything from an 800cc car to a high-powered supercar. The licensing system should be upgraded to a graduated licensing system under which a person is given a license based on their competency to drive a certain vehicle," Tewari suggested.

 

Perhaps the most publicised accident in recent memory involved former Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry.

 

In November 2022, Mistry and his friend Jehangir Pandole died when their Mercedes-Benz SUV, driven by Anahita Pandole, crashed into a road divider at high speed.

 

Subsequent investigations revealed that the victims in the back seat were not wearing seat belts, a factor that likely contributed to their deaths.

 

Speed has repeatedly been a silent killer on India's roads. In October 2022, a BMW traveling over 230 kmph on the Purvanchal Expressway collided with a truck, transforming into a mangled heap and killing all four occupants instantly.

 

The car was being driven by a 35-year-old professor from a private college in Rohtas, Bihar, accompanied by friends who were live-streaming the ride on Facebook.

 

The live-stream footage showed one of them urging the driver to increase speed moments before the fatal crash.

 

Another heart-wrenching incident occurred in Bengaluru in August 2021, where seven people died after an Audi Q3 driven by DMK MLA Y Prakash's son Karunasagar Prakash slammed into a divider.

 

Police investigations pointed to negligent driving at 100 kmph as the cause.

 

Pedestrians, too, bear the brunt of reckless driving. The 2022 road accidents report documented 10,160 pedestrian deaths from 20,513 accidents on national highways.

 

A poignant case from February 2020 saw an 18-year-old pedestrian killed by an overspeeding Mercedes Benz near Hosapete, Karnataka.

 

The car hit the teenager at a tea stall, causing instant death and dragging the body for several meters. The crash also claimed the life of a front seat passenger.

 

To curb these tragedies, Tewari said that the need for pedestrian-friendly infrastructure.

 

"In India, roads are not pedestrian-friendly. We need to make some infrastructural changes to the existing road network to make them safe for pedestrians, especially along highways, intersections, and the city sections from where a highway passes,” he added.

 

The recurrent theme in these incidents is clear: the deadly allure of speed, coupled with a lax regulatory framework, is a recipe for disaster on India's roads. Only through stringent reforms and a commitment to road safety can these senseless deaths be prevented.

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