Road Crashes in Bengaluru – 2023
January 18, 2024 Vaidya R
Bengaluru recorded 4,974 road crashes (traffic accidents), just shy of 5000, in 2023, according to data from the Bengaluru Traffic Police (BTP). This number is up from 3,823 in 2022, an increase of 30% in one year! This is also the highest since 2017 when 5,064 crashes were recorded. The number of road crashes has now gone past pre-Covid levels after the dip in 2020 and 2021 due to the lockdowns.
These crashes caused 910 deaths on Bengaluru’s roads. This is the highest ever recorded since 2011 from when the records are available on BTP’s site. While this number has been steadily increasing since the dip in 2020 due to Covid related lockdowns, pre-covid numbers of 2019 were exceeded in 2022 itself!
What is worrying is that, over the years, more road crashes are ending up causing fatalities. While before Covid, even though the percentage of crashes that were fatal was increasing steadily, the lockdowns during the pandemic caused a drop. Since 2021, this has picked up and is close to 18% now – almost every one in five crashes is now fatal. Before 2020, while it was still ticking up, one in six road crashes were causing fatalities. But this proportion has been steadily increasing since 2016.
This suggests that speeding might be a cause in accidents and outer areas might be contributing more to accidents as the density of traffic signals is lower, pedestrian infrastructure is poorer and roads like highways leading away from the city tend to see higher speeds farther from the centre.
Where are the crashes?
Police-station wise road crashes data from the Bengaluru Traffic Police shows that outer areas tend to see more accidents. The highest number of crashes were recorded in Whitefield, Kengeri and K.R.Puram traffic police station jurisdictions, while areas like Kamashipalya, Yelahanka and the International Airport were not far behind. In general, jurisdictions in the outer areas recorded more cases than those inside, even accounting for area size.
It needs to be noted that, Whitefield data includes Mahadevapura and Bellandur stations’s data. While Bellandur Traffic police station was carved out of Mahadevapura in 2023, updated maps have not been released by the Government yet.
The fatalities also closely follow the total crashes, but not identically. The northern parts, along the road to the airport recorded more crashes than other parts. But while the city centre did record similar number of crashes as some of the outer areas, the trend is much starker with fatalities. The number of fatalities increases steadily as you go closer to the Outer Ring Road, with the number increasing heavily beyond the ORR.
Considering the percentage of road crashes that are fatal, the northern jurisdictions show a much higher percentage than other areas. While one in five crashes are fatal in other outer areas, in the northern jurisdictions it goes up to one in four!
Speed of vehicles is usually an important factor in deciding fatality and the data seems to suggest that speeding along the highway to the airport could be a major cause of accidents. More data on accident hotspots and causes of individual crashes can help us understand the issues better and also propose solutions.
Growth in vehicles
While the number of crashes and deaths is steadily increasing in Bengaluru, so is the number of vehicles registered each year. As of December 2023 there are more than 1.14 Crore vehicles in Bengaluru of which private cars and two-wheelers make up 1.02 Crore!
Bengaluru now boasts, not only the highest number of vehicles among Indian cities, but also the highest number of private cars at 23.5 Lakh to Delhi’s 20.71 Lakh private cars.
The nine months of 2023-24 have already seen 5.27 Lakh registrations. The remaining three months could add another 1.5 lakhs taking it close to or exceed the peak of 2018-19!
Delhi has historically been the city with the most number of accidents. Bengaluru, however, is usually in the top 5 most of the years. But with increasing vehicle numbers and the corresponding increase in road crashes, Bengaluru could soon take over the top ranking.
More investment in pedestrian infrastructure, speed calming measures, addressing issues in accident hotspots, stronger enforcement of traffic rules are some of the measures usually undertaken to make roads safer. However, traffic enforcement has been taking a backseat in Bengaluru over the years, and pedestrian infrastructure has a lot of scope for improvement as our datajam on walkability audits showed.
The upcoming metro to the airport could help reduce the load on NH44, but that is still many years away. More buses connecting different parts of the city could help more people ditch their vehicles, and also improve last-mile connectivity to the metro. Such measures can help reduce the number of crashes on our roads.
Opening up data on where the crashes are happening, and what kind of vehicles are at each spot, can help researchers and urban planners analyse and understand the underlying issues better and suggest solutions.