If Cyrus Mistry's accident was any indication, apart from speed, driving sense and road safety awareness are some of the major factors that contribute to fatalities on Indian roads. The incident even pushed the government to take multiple actions including making seatbelts mandatory for rear-seat passengers too. However, people don't seem to be learning anything from the accident, as proved by the BMW car's recent accident.
On the other hand, the Autobahn in Germany has no speed limits, at least a major part of it doesn’t, and yet it has one of the lowest fatal accident rates in the globe. Indian National Highways have speed limits written in big bold letters all over, yet the country grapples to tackle fatal road mishaps which are alarmingly high.
Let us see this conundrum with the perspective of the recent high-speed crash on Purvanchal Highway near UP’s Sultanpur that saw all four occupants of a swanky new BMW lose their lives.
As per reports, four Indian occupants including the driver of the German car were doing a Facebook live while going over 230 kmph on the newly inaugurated Purvanchal Highway in Uttar Pradesh. As fate would have it, one of the passengers could also be heard saying, “Chaaron k chaar marenge aaj..” before actually crashing into a container truck coming from the opposite direction, suspectedly on the wrong side.
At the first sight of it, it is natural to blame the driver of the Beamer for over-speeding. While this is absolutely ok, this is certainly not the only cause of the accident. Reports suggest, the container truck it rammed, was coming from the wrong direction violating every rule on the highway. This cannot be termed as lack of awareness of rules. Being a heavy vehicle driver, this is blatant disregard for the rules and taking lives of other commuters on the road for granted.
Meanwhile, our German counterparts with a mere 2719 fatalities despite unrestricted speed limit are especially good because of a strict licensing test system. Though the whole Autobahn system isn’t unrestricted, large, primarily rural sections are – enough for you to get from point A to point B way faster than you would in India, US or anywhere in the world.
For the uninitiated, Autobahn is the name of Germany's Highways system similar to India's National Highway (NH). To get a license in Germany, you are required to take tons of driving lessons, including several where you’re taken on the actual Autobahn and put into real, high-speed traffic. Drivers must receive basic first aid training and on top of that, you still have an incredibly difficult multiple choice exam and the road test.
All of this can take up to six months to finish up, if it’s all done successfully and it could cost over $2,000 (£1,400).
The roads are very well maintained. To accommodate higher-speed traffic, Autobahn roads are also inspected regularly for irregularities in the road surface or any damage. If anything is found during these inspections, the whole area of road around the damaged section is replaced.
Cars in Germany are required to have regular, thorough inspections to make sure they’re safe for road use. These inspections help limit the number of potentially dangerous cars that endanger their own occupants and other motorists. Inspections in India are a complete joke compared to what German cars go through. Germany maintains a countrywide standard, whereas Indian inspections are handled on a state-by-state basis.
Tailgating is heavily regulated. There aren’t too many police on German roads, yes, but if caught tailgating you’re in for a hefty fine. Worst case scenario: you could be stuck with a $450 ticket. In India, you’d be lucky if a police patrol van even bats an eye. When you tailgate, you have less time to react to abrupt situations that could happen in front of you.
So, besides over-speeding, there are a whole lot of factors that could contribute to a fatal crash on road. In the UP BMW case, had the container truck driver respected the law, taken the longer route to use the underpass to take a u-turn and head back, instead of taking a shortcut on the wrong side of the road, the four friends would have been alive now, probably receiving a bashing from friends and family for driving at dangerously high speeds.