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12 schoolchildren die in collision as India's road woes continue

By Harmeet Shah Singh, CNN
March 4, 2013 -- Updated 1047 GMT (1847 HKT)
India has an appalling record when it comes to road deaths, according to government figures. (File image)
India has an appalling record when it comes to road deaths, according to government figures. (File image)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Deadly wreck injures 10 in Punjab state
  • The bus driver was also killed in morning crash
  • India has an appalling road safety record, with almost one accident a minute

Delhi, India (CNN) -- At least 12 schoolchildren were killed when their bus collided head-on with a truck in northern India Monday.

The wreck, which left 10 others injured, occurred in Jalandhar district, Punjab state, police superintendent Yurinder Singh Hayer told CNN.

The driver of the school bus was also killed in the crash, which happened at around 8 a.m. local time, according to police.

Hayer said the bus had some two dozen schoolchildren on board.

Police have launched an investigation into the incident.

India has an appalling record when it comes to road traffic deaths. In 2011, more than 142,000 people were killed in about 490,000 road crashes, according to the country's transport and highways ministry.

This equates to almost one accident per minute and one death every four minutes on India roads -- making it a bigger killer than HIV/AIDS and other diseases, according to the World Health Organization.

During a recent road safety campaign, the ministry said many of these incidents were due to drink driving, a scourge it said needed to eliminated by spreading awareness and stringent enforcement measures. It added that state governments have been requested to remove liquor shops from the side of highways.

Experts warn the Indian government has much to do in the fight to control the number of road deaths and encouraged it to draw on the experiences of others.

"Countries which have made progress have done so with political will at the highest levels of government and a sustained focus on what works," Dr. Etienne Krug, director of violence and injury prevention at the WHO, told the Times of India in December.

"Measures include identifying a lead agency for road safety; developing a comprehensive road safety strategy; and implementing concrete measures related to roads, vehicles and people's behavior.

"Responding to emergencies following a crash and ensuring justice for victims and their families are also key."

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