Despite having one of the lowest vehicle per capita rates in the world, India is no stranger to road accidents. In a Road Safety Report issued by the World Health Organization in 2018, India ranked number 1 in the world for road accident deaths, accounting for approximately 11% of vehicle-related deaths in the world. With the ever growing population in India, one may wonder if this problem will improve or worsen as the number of vehicles increase in the country. To better understand India's road safety problem, we examine the rate of accidents and deaths per vehicle by state in India.
- The state with the highest road accident and death rate is Himachal Pradesh with accidents representing 1.2% of the vehicle population and a death rate of 526.27 deaths per 100,000 vehicles
- In contrast, with the exception of Lakshadweep which had 0 accidents, the state with the lowest road accident rate was Dadra & Nagar Haveli at 0.02%. The territory with the lowest road accident death rate is Chandigarh (7.38 deaths per 100,000 vehicles)
- States with higher road accident rates actually have fewer vehicles per person, indicating that less traffic and empty roads leads to more car accidents by potentially encouraging more reckless driving
Which State Has the Lowest & Highest Accident Rate?
According to the latest data from the Government of India Ministry of Road Transport and Highways - Transport Research Wing in 2017, the State with the highest private vehicle road accident rate is the northern state of Himachal Pradesh. Its road accident rate is 1.2% of the total vehicles registered—more than 5x greater than the average accident rate in India of 0.22%. This is followed by Daman & Diu (0.85%), Assam (0.83%), Andaman & Nicobar Islands (0.56%) and Bihar (0.55%).
On the other hand, the state with the lowest accident rate is Lakhshadweep at 0%, because the state has recorded no accidents for the year of 2017. Among states that have recorded accidents for the year, Dadra & Nagar Haveli has the lowest accident rate. Dadra Nagar has the lowest accident rate of 0.02%. The states following Dadra & Nagar Haveli are Chandigarh and Delhi (both 0.04%) and Punjab and Uttarakhand (both 0.05%).
Surprisingly, we found a negative correlation between the vehicle density (vehicles per population) and the accident rate; the less vehicles there are per person, the higher the accidents per vehicle. For instance, though Himachal Pradesh has the highest accident rate, it has one of the lowest vehicle densities in India, with approximately 2,035 vehicles per 100,000 people compared to the nationwide average of 19,495 vehicles per 100,000 people. On the other hand, though Chandigarh has one of the largest vehicle per person rates (63,451 per 100,000 people), its road accident rate is one of the lowest.
Safest States for Accidents
|Rank||State||Accidents per 100,000 vehicles||Vehicle per Population|
|2||Dadra & Nagar Haveli||24.29||0.28|
|27||Jammu & Kashmir||205.89||0.09|
|33||Andaman & Nicobar Islands||558.87||0.03|
|35||Daman & Diu||853.94||0.03|
Which State Has the Highest & Lowest Road Accident Death Rate?
The state with the highest road accident death rate is Himachal Pradesh as well, with a road accident death rate per vehicle of 526.27 deaths per 100,000 vehicles. The states with the next highest road accident death rates are Arunachal Pradesh (443.68 deaths per 100,000 vehicles), Assam (386.16 deaths per 100,000 vehicles) and Daman & Diu (302.44 deaths per 100,000 vehicles)— these are very high when compared to the nationwide average of 85.57 deaths per 100,000 vehicles.
On the other hand, the state with the lowest death rate is Lakshadweep at 0% as they have not recorded any car and two-wheeler road accidents in 2017. For states who have recorded accidents, Chandigarh has the lowest deaths per vehicle in India of 7.38 deaths per 100,000 vehicles. The states with the lowest death rates following Chandigarh are Delhi (7.44 deaths per 100,000 vehicles), Nagaland (8.37 deaths per 100,000 vehicles), and Puducherry (13.86 deaths per 100,000 vehicles).
The road accident death rate also has a negative correlation with the vehicle density rate. States with the highest road accident death rates like Himachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh have some of the lowest vehicle density rates in the nation (2,035 vehicles per 100,000 people and 1,002 vehicles per 100,000 people, respectively). However, approximately 85% of all car and motorcycle accidents in Arunachal Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh result in a death. On the other hand, vehicle-dense states like Puducherry, Chandigarh and Delhi not only have the lowest road accident death rates, but only 10-26% of road accidents result in a death. This data suggests that not only do states with low vehicle density rates have a greater rate of road accidents, but their accidents are deadlier on average compared to states with above average vehicle densities.
Safest States for Road Accident Deaths
|Rank||State||Accident Deaths per 100,000 vehicles||Vehicle per Population|
|8||Dadra & Nagar Haveli||19.43||0.28|
|17||Jammu & Kashmir||37.55||0.09|
|31||Andaman & Nicobar Islands||94.72||0.03|
|33||Daman & Diu||302.44||0.03|
Less Cars Does Not Always Mean Safer Roads
While it may seem like more vehicles on the road may increase the risk of accidents, our data found the opposite—states that have lower vehicle densities have greater road accident rates. Furthermore, accidents in these states are even deadlier compared to the average, indicating that sparser roads are actually more dangerous. Given that exceeding the speed limit accounts for more than reports claim 70% of accidents in India, it seems that less densely populated roads may be encouraging drivers and riders to be more reckless, causing more accidents & deaths on the roads.
Because of this, looking at just the number of accidents doesn't paint an accurate picture of road safety. For instance, while many reports claim that Delhi is one of the most dangerous states for road safety due to the high number of road accidents, such characterization doesn't capture how risky the roads may be for drivers & motorcycle riders. In fact, analyzing accidents per vehicle rather than merely comparing the total number of accidents reveals that Delhi is actually one of the safest states for drivers, with an accident rate well below average. Thus, increasing vehicle density on the roads may actually be one of the links to making India’s roads safer, along with regulations & education of drivers.
Methodology and Limitations
We used 2016 and 2017 reports provided by the Government of India Ministry of Road Transport and Highways - Transport Research Wing to collect data on motor vehicle accidents and motor vehicle death rates. To find the accident rate per state, we also collected data for vehicle populations and statewide human populations. We were then able to find data on which state has the highest road accident and road death rates, as well any correlations between population and vehicle density rates. For total vehicles, we used cars and two-wheelers for our data collection, which doesn't include busses, rickshaws, or any other form of transportation.