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A car accident in Rabindra Sadan Area, Kolkata. Image source: Wikipedia
  • Supreme Court named road accidents a ‘National Emergency’
  • Onlookers are hesitant to help victims due to fear of wrongful police custody of hefty medical fees
  • SaveLIFE, founded by Piyush Tewari, is a pioneering organisation to address the issue of road rage

In a country with the world’s most densely populated roads and notorious rash driving, road accidents are not too uncommon. In conditions like these, it falls upon pedestrians and bystanders to help the victims of road accidents with utter promptness and empathy.

Even as people bleed to death on the roads crying desperately for help, onlookers show sheer apathy in not helping them. In some cases, they gather around and then continue looking, but that does not help any better. When interviewed, the foremost reason most of these people mention is that they don’t want to involve themselves in unwanted criminal cases. The policemen more, more often than not, assume people help road victims out of guilt. Apart from this, there are concerns that they may be trapped as potential victims in court cases, or the hospital may force them to pay hefty medical fees to save the victim.

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Road rage is becoming a growing worriment in India, especially with a fast growing population and cut throat traffic on the streets.

  • 1 million lives have been lost on roads in India in the past decade
  • 20 children lose their lives everyday, thanks to road accidents
  • 15 people are killed every day owing to road accidents in India
  • 5 million people have been seriously injured in the last decade
  • 3 percent of its annual GDP is lost by India on road accidents

SLF model for SaveLIFE

SaveLIFE foundation is a powerful non-governmental organization committed to improving road safety and emergency care services across India. Piyush Tewari, a social activist who founded this organization, was deeply moved by his 17 year old cousin’s death 10 years ago. An immense research commenced following this incident, which finally ended up in the setup of SaveLIFE.

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In a 2013 survey, the foundation found that around 74% of Indians were unlikely to help an accident victim, whether alone or with other bystanders. This number is staggeringly high, and to encourage people to begin reaching out to authorities in road cases, The Supreme Court was approached. In 2013, The Supreme Court labeled road rage as a ‘National Emergency’.

Today, these bystanders, who want to help the victims of road accidents but are reluctant to do so on grounds of undue involvement, have legal protection from the Supreme Court. A few guidelines were issued such as:

  • allowing those who call for emergency services about a road crash to retain anonymity
  • forbidding hospitals from demanding payment from an onlooker who takes an injured person to hospital
  • providing them with protection from criminal liability

Piyush Tewari’s actions have helped lots of road rage cases, but like the apex court said, this is indeed a National Emergency, and until we start targeting the general mentalities of people towards social help, little can be changed through legal help.

-by Saurabh Bodas, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @saurabhbodas96



Photo by Flickr.

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