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NEW DELHI, INDIA (AFP) – India’s transport ministry admitted Thursday it has so far failed to improve road safety but said it was pushing for stricter laws, as new figures revealed 17 people die in traffic accidents every hour.
Transport minister Nitin Gadkari acknowledged an urgent need to improve road infrastructure as the numbers showed traffic accidents were one of the single biggest causes of death in India. The report found 146,133 people died in 501,423 road accidents in 2015, an increase of almost five percent from 2014, while half a million more were injured. Nearly eight in ten accidents were caused by drivers, with 62 percent of those blamed on speeding.
“Accidents are killing more people in India than terrorism or natural disasters and yet we never talk about them,” Gadkari said at a press conference to mark the release of the report. “It saddens me that there has been a negligible impact on reducing the number of deaths despite our best efforts in the past two years,” he said.
Gadkari said the ministry was working to expand the country’s highway network from 96,000 to 200,000 kilometers (60,000 to 124,000 miles) to ease the burden on crumbling roads.