India Bus Crash Kills 37

India bus

A speeding bus in India flipped over the edge of a bridge in western India early Tuesday morning, killing at least 37 people and injuring around 14 others.

The bus was traveling from Goa to Mumbai along the Mumbai-Goa highway. The driver is reported to have lost control of the wheel while driving before dawn Tuesday morning. The bus careened over the edge of the bridge and landed upside-down on a dried up patch of land next to the shallow water of the Jagbudi River flowing below.

The BBC reports that the luxury bus carried over 50 passengers. Most of the injured suffered head or arm injuries. They were taken to three hospitals in the Khed area of the Ratnagiri district of the state of Maharashtra, where the accident occurred. The driver was among the injured, and it is unclear whether the driver had consumed any alcohol. One foreign passenger was on the bus, a Russian woman.

The Australian Associated Press reports that over 800 people have died in traffic accidents on the Mumbai-Goa highway in the last three years. Approximately 110,000 people were killed in road accidents in India in 2011, an average of more than 300 each day, according to India’s National Crime Records Bureau.

For comparison, over 34,000 people died due to motor vehicle related accidents in the US in 2011. Given that the US has one-fourth of India’s population, the proportion is quite similar. However, the US has a significantly greater number of cars on the road than India. Relative to the number of cars on the road, Indians are far more likely to get into a car accident.

In the US, accidents are usually caused by excessive speed, aggressive driving, or other displays of poor driver behavior. Secondary reasons include equipment failure, roadway design, and poor road maintenance.

Accidents in India are often due to poor driving or inadequately maintained roads and vehicles. More damaging, however, is that traffic laws are not strictly enforced and therefore not strictly followed. Indian cars are more likely to carry more passengers than the average American car, putting more people at risk. India bus crashes with double-digit death tolls, unfortunately, are not uncommon.