Kauvery Hospital | Patient Newsletters | Making Roads Safer - The Need For Good Samaritans

Road accidents are one of the leading causes of death worldwide. India stands near the top of the list of countries with unsafe roads and a high number of fatalities. According to Government of India data, Tamilnadu leads the country in the number of deaths due to road accidents. There are ways in which this number could be reduced.

The Law Commission of India has observed that 50% of those who die in road accidents could be saved if timely assistance is available to them. A study done by the World Health Organization says that the role of bystanders is critical when it comes to saving these lives. The study goes on to say that to enable this to happen, people have to be empowered by a safe and supportive legal system and a strong ethical environment that recognizes the importance of timely action.

Unfortunately in India people are reluctant to provide help to road accident victims. According to a study done by the Save Life Foundation, this is due to a fear of becoming involved in police investigations. They are afraid that if they provide help to accident victims they will become entangled in legal problems, bureaucratic red tape and police procedures. 75% of the people surveyed for the study expressed this view.

In March 2016 the Supreme Court of India put this fear to rest once and for all. By an order that is now known as the "Good Samaritan Law" the court has said that those who help victims of road accidents (Good Samaritans) must be treated with respect by all authorities. There will be no discrimination on grounds of gender, religion, nationality or caste. The police will not harass the Good Samaritan and will allow him/her to leave after providing what information is available in their possession about the accident. The police will not reveal the identity or personal details of the Good Samaritan. The Good Samaritan will not be forced to appear as a witness in court if he/she does not wish to do so.

This law will remove the fear of bystanders and allow them to help accident victims. This, in turn, will create the ethical environment where people will be willing to help those injured in road accidents.

If you should have the misfortune of witnessing a road accident, do not hesitate to provide help to the victims and transport them to a hospital. You will not be put to any inconvenience or harassment by any authorities and may be the key to saving a life and replacing tears on the face to the victim's loved ones with smiles.

Article by Dr. Susovan Mitra, MBBS, MD (Emergency Medicine) MEM, Dip. Emergency Medicine, Fellowship in Critical Care Medicine,
Consultant Intensivist & Head of the Department & Academic Director in Emergency Medicine,
Kauvery Hospital, Chennai

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