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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 May 2007, 13:36 GMT 14:36 UK
India seeks to tackle road deaths
By Sanjoy Majumder
BBC News, Delhi

Traffic in Delhi
Driving in India can be a hazardous experience
The Indian government has introduced a bill in parliament proposing a steep increase in fines for traffic offences.

The move is aimed at cracking down on the country's chaotic and indisciplined driving. Every year, more than 90,000 people are killed in road accidents.

Such accidents account for nearly 8% of the world's total fatalities.

The number of drivers in India is set to soar from seven in 1,000 today to 11 in 1,000 by 2010 - a doubling since 2000 when 0.5% of Indians had a car.

Reckless driving

Stepping out on the roads and highways of India is not for the faint hearted.

At any given time, pedestrians compete for space with a dizzying variety of vehicles: buses, cars, trucks, three-wheel auto-rickshaws, hand-pulled carts and, of course, the occasional cow.

The construction of a highway in Delhi
New highways are being constructed to ease traffic chaos

And India's growing economy means that there has been a surge in demand for new cars.

Many drivers, however, simply disregard traffic rules and road accidents caused by reckless driving are quite common in India - among the highest in the world.

Under the government's new proposals, speeding could attract a fine of $10 to $25, while drunken driving could lead to six months in prison as well as a penalty of $50.

A similar initiative is already in place in the capital, Delhi, and has led to a visible improvement in traffic discipline.

But some people fear that it could lead to corruption, with police asking traffic violators for bribes.

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