A few days ago, the following tweet caught my attention:
Priya has hit the nail on the head – the venerable auto rickshaw is indeed India’s national vehicle. It is quintessentially Indian and is a ubiquitous sight in the urban landscape. Unlike the national animal, however, there’s little danger of it becoming an endangered species..
Anand Halve replied to Priya’s tweet with a witticism of his own:
@james_priya Yes! Ubiquitous, indisciplined, and licensed to thril & kill! 🙂
— Anand Halve (@anandhalve) March 13, 2013
Indisciplined? There are all sorts of auto drivers and we certainly have many of the indisciplined kind.
Licensed to thrill? Yes.
Licensed to kill? Ask any urban denizen who drives his own car and he’s very likely to blame the auto rickshaws for most accidents inside city limits. But is that really true?
Embarq (India) set out to answer this very question for the city of Mumbai. Analyzing data about road accident fatalities and serious injuries (obtained from Mumbai Traffic Police and the Traffic Training Institute, Byculla), they came up with the following observations and conclusions:
- Total number of fatalities has been steadily on the rise since 2004, and has largely fluctuated over the course of the past decade (from 534 in 2004 to 651 in 2007, to 637 in 2010 and 404 as of Oct 2012)
- Auto-rickshaws are a lower contributor to fatalities than motorcycles and cars. Their (normalized) share in total fatalities for 2011 stood at 7.4% (28 persons killed), compared to 34.4% for cars (130 fatalities), 29.7% for motorcycles (112 fatalities). Graph below.
- Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcycle occupants (drivers/pillion) are the most vulnerable to road accidents leading to death. From 2011 data, of 563 fatalities, 323 were pedestrian fatalities (a whopping 57% share in total), 176 were motorcycle occupants (31.2% of total), and only 14 auto-rickshaw occupant fatalities. Graph below.
Link to Embarq’s blog post – A safety assessment of auto rickshaws in Mumbai.