The Potential for Rail Transit as a Way to Mitigate Accident Risk: A Case Study in Chennai

The Potential for Rail Transit as a Way to Mitigate Accident Risk: A Case Study in Chennai

Sumeeta Srinivasan (Tufts University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0084-1.ch002
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The city of Chennai has made road accident data available with the address location of road accidents and the total numbers of persons and pedestrians affected in the accident in 2009. These data were geocoded to locate the accidents with respect to the census wards within the Chennai Corporation area. Both the total number of persons as well as pedestrians in accidents as well as the rate of accidents normalized by population in the ward were modeled as dependent variables using Poisson based regression models to see the effect of location characteristics such as road length, vehicle traffic, proximity to existing and proposed transit infrastructure and the percentage of the land developed between 1991-2009. The results from the models suggest that location does indeed affect the risk for accidents in Chennai and that planners in the city may need to better understand the implications of roads, urban development, transit access and the built environment for traffic safety.
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The World Health Organization (WHO, 2009) estimated that 1.2 million people a year die and 50 million are injured in traffic accidents and that a majority of these accidents occur in low income countries. Mohan et al (2009) report that traffic fatalities in India increased by about 5% per year from 1980 to 2000, and have continued to increase by about 8% per year since then. After New Delhi (the capital of India), in 2006 Chennai had the highest fatality rate from accidents with over 1300 fatalities in that year alone (Mohan et al, 2009). There are significant geographical and socioeconomic disparities in the risk of traffic accidents related injuries. A national survey of road traffic injuries in India found that the age-adjusted mortality rate was greater in urban than in rural areas, and was notably higher than that estimated from national police records (Hsiao et al, 2013). The found that pedestrians, motorcyclists and other vulnerable road users constituted 68% of the deaths due to road traffic accidents and 81% of pedestrian deaths were associated with less education and living in poorer neighborhoods. Hsiao et al also note that the state of Tamil Nadu (of which Chennai is the capital) had the third highest death rate in the country due to road traffic injuries. Patel et al (2011) found that rapid motorization, along with the heterogeneous composition of road traffic and infrastructural deficiencies can be directly linked to the increased number of road traffic injuries in India. They report that more than half of total road deaths in 2007 were in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka, which account for only 27% of India’s population but about 37% of its motor vehicles. Research suggests that the overall fatality rates are likely to continue to increase as GDP continues to increase and motorization increases (Grimm and Treibech, 2012). These grim statistics also have implications for the economy. Yearly losses due to road traffic accidents have been estimated at 750 billion rupees (Sikdar and Bhavsar, 2009). This was nearly 3% of the gross domestic product (GDP). In the light of these grim statistics it is vital that we address traffic accidents as a major health burden especially in urban areas where residents face a higher risk.

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