New Delhi: One hundred and ninety eight migrant workers lost their lives in road accidents during the lockdown from March 25 to May 31 imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), according to data compiled by the SaveLIFE Foundation, a non-government organisation that promotes road safety.
At least 1,461 road crashes took place over the course of the nationwide lockdown in which at least 750 people were killed, including the 198 migrant workers headed home. Some 1,390 persons were reported injured in the crashes, according to the data.
On average, 1,200 road accidents happen in India every day, and around 400 people lose their lives on account of them, according to the transport ministry. However, the restrictions during lockdown took most vehicles off the roads.
Migrant workers killed during their return home comprise 26.4% of the overall deaths during the lockdown; essential workers made up 5.3% of the total deaths. And 68.3% of the overall deaths involved other road users, including pedestrians, two-wheeler and three-wheeler drivers in cases “involving over-speeding, hit and run and distracted driving etc,” the report said.
While migrants used all means at their disposal to get back home during the lockdown -- they couldn’t use public transport because there was none till May 1 when special trains for migrant workers were launched -- essential workers were up and about performing their duties; they were the only people allowed to move around for much of the lockdown.
The report attributed the road crashes to fatigue among bus and truck drivers hired to transport the migrants, combined with over-speeding and poor roads.
Uttar Pradesh accounted for over 30% (245) of the total deaths followed by Telangana (56), Madhya Pradesh (56), Bihar (43), Punjab (38) and Maharashtra (36).
The five states that reported the most road crash deaths of migrant workers were Uttar Pradesh (94), Madhya Pradesh (38), Bihar (16), Telangana (11) and Maharashtra (9).
The report said the data has been compiled using media-tracking and multi-source verification.
“With COVID 19 still very much around, we simply can’t afford to burden our already over-burdened healthcare system with road crash related trauma. It is critical that States enhance enforcement to prevent road crashes and the citizens inculcate essential safety habits for the road like they did for personal hygiene during the lockdown,” said Piyush Tewari, founder and CEO, SaveLIFE Foundation.
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