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Being a Good Samaritan in Road Accidents in India

Updated on July 2, 2016

In March 2016, the Delhi Government decided to reward auto rickshaw drivers Rs.2,000 if they take road accident victims to trauma centers and hospitals, according to a report by The Hindu. In a bid to lessen the crucial time lost in taking a victim to the nearest emergency center, this move must also be seen as promoting the spirit of being a Good Samaritan in times of need. With an increase in road accidents, there is a greater need for more good Samaritans.

What Do Statistics Say About Road Accidents in India?

As per the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways' Road Accidents in India 2014 report, on average 16 lives are lost every hour in road tragedies. The data revealed that 4.89 lakh road collisions took place in 2014, with 1.41 lakh people losing their lives due to the driver's fault being the number one reason for such disasters, at 78%. A state-wise analysis revealed that Tamil Nadu had the most numbers of accidents, and Lakshadweep had the least.

What are the Major Causes of Road Collisions?

There are various factors that are responsible for road accidents, but a majority of the times, it is due to the driver's fault. According to National Crime Record Bureau's Accidental Deaths and Suicides Report 2014, over-speeding formed 47.9% of the fault. Another large share, at 41.5%, belonged to dangerous driving, which includes careless steering and reckless overtaking. Other causes where riding under the influence of alcohol, bad weather condition and mechanical defects in the car. This data is reflective of the fact that most accidents take place due to irresponsible driving, which is a controllable factor.

How Important is a Bystander's Help?

Irrespective of what the cause is, it is important to understand the role of a bystander in the situation. SaveLife Foundation's report on Impediments to Bystander Care says that 74% of spectators in the event of an accident are unlikely to help a person with severe injuries! This is an appalling revelation, given that the number of deaths caused by road accidents in India surpasses the individual populations of 27 countries! Moreover, aid from the bystander actually helps to fill the void created by infrastructural shortcomings.

As per a report by the Wall Street Journal, there are only 152 state-run ambulances, which translates to 1 ambulance for every 144,736 people. This figure is significantly worse that the WHO’s recommendation of 1 for every 100,000. The SaveLife study sheds light on the importance of immediate treatment by highlighting that 50% of those who die in road accidents could have been saved if they were provided medical care within the golden hour!

So, what are the reasons that discourage bystanders from extending a helping hand? In the study, 88% respondents cited legal hassles, repeated questioning by the police and court appearances as the topmost reasons, while 77% of the respondents said that they were reluctant to help due to hospitals detaining the Samaritans and asking them to bear the fee to begin treatment.

What You Must Do to Help the Situation

To begin with, a large number of road accidents can be avoided by vehicle drivers following the rules for road safety and being mindful while driving. Secondly, people should get insured with life or term plans and add accidental riders that allow the flexibility of choosing coverage term and sum assured, so that in case of any unfortunate event, the financial burden is taken care of.

The Supreme Court has approved the recommendations of the Central Government for the protection of the Good Samaritans as per a report by India Today. These gazette guidelines include respect and protection of the identity of the eyewitness, avoiding undue delays in questioning and suitable rewards, among others.

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