Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
General Studies 3
11th to 17th January is celebrated as the road safety week. Celebrating the road safety campaign was initiated by the ISS India HSE (Health Safety and Environment) in order to make people aware about the national road safety in the Indian subcontinent. ISS India had declared to celebrate the Road Safety Week all through the country in the first week of the month of January. The aim of this campaign was to emphasize and accentuate people about the need of safe roads travel by applying just simple rules.
The theme for road safety week 2017 is “Your safety, secures your family-Be cautious on Roads”.
Roads make a wider contribution to the Indian economy. India has largest road network in the world coming to 3 million kms road. But there are lot of challenges with the roads, especially the road accidents.
It is a major concern for India. It is a side effect of urbanisation but often forget that speed often needs safety. There were more than 1 lakh deaths due to road accidents in 2016. Its an issue that has mainly 3 levels.
Its not just government issue. It is a city planning issue around city design, planning, architecture etc.
With advancement of technology, the most developed project undertaken along with real estate are the massive road building projects.
While new roads are being build, faster automobiles are being invented in high numbers making road safety a crucial problem.
Number of cars over roads has increased over time period. Most of the new constructions are around highways and flyovers. The most affected by these constructions are pedestrians and cyclists who face utmost problem while on roads.
Hence, its not just a policy issue but also about city planning. When a road is planned, crossing, overbridges, underbridges has to be also thought about.
Dealing with road accident
How quickly the person who has met with the road accident is responded has to be improved.
Citizen behaviour is important- how quickly bystanders reach out, how quickly an ambulance or police calls, how quickly ambulance reaches patient, it reaches hospital and how quickly the person gets critical care.
Are the traffic rules followed?
Are seatbelts and helmets worn?
Is quality of equipment, taking care of vehicle etc. maintained regularly?
Two wheelers are important in lane driving which is almost absent in India. Drivers’ behaviour, especially of the two wheeler riders, is very rude. Not many are ready to accept the importance of helmet and also there is a need of making better quality of helmets. In many countries, there are designated lane driving for cycles, and two wheelers.
In western countries, the pedestrian rights are respected where there is dedicated time and space allotted for them on roads.
More and more people in India are using seatbelt because of the fear of traffic police. Penalties can get to change the people’s behaviour for sometime, but for long term behaviour change, it has to come from inside. Wearing the seatbelt correctly reduces the risk of death and crash by 61%. Often the driver wears the seatbelt but not the co-passenger along with people in backseat.
There needs behaviour change from both sides. Pedestrian should know when to cross the road and when not to. The driver should respect the pedestrian rights.
According to WHO, more than 2 million people die in road accidents every year and 50 million people are injured or disabled by road traffic rashes every year. In 2014, the National Crime and Records Bureau recorded 142,000 deaths, a sharp rise from 98,000 deaths in 2005. The hospitalisation is also a concern during road accident. It is something state governments are starting to work on. There are 31 lakh serious injuries and more than 1 crore minor injuries. So how is the cost going to be borne by the government and the patient is to be known.
In some states, there are unique schemes. In Karnataka, in first 48 hours, government provides free cashless hospitalisation. The private hospitals ask is if there is medical insurance or not before giving critical care treatment. So the idea is to give cash and give healthcare treatment to the injured atleast in first 48 hours. This is where cashless and insurance schemes help. They help in buffering cost that patient has to pay in crisis time.
There is also a famous number 108 which assures speediest ambulance service.
Guidelines on good Samaritans
Lack of awareness about SC guidelines about ‘good Samaritan’ is visible. Though it says that the helper of victims of road accident will not be harassed by police, yet people are scared of getting involved in legal matter. It can only change when there is greater awareness. Awareness starts early, and the best medium is school and colleges.
India’s legal system is more complicated. But the simple guidelines of SC hopes to encourage people to help victims of road accident.
Golden hours of safety
The more critical kind of crashes, the first 48 hours are most critical. Governments have recognised and implemented policies. It doesn’t depend on person who is in crash or the driver because often the driver themselves are hurt. Here bystanders have to take action. Scheme 108 ambulance is very helpful in this area. However, there are enough services in cities but on highways and rural areas, these kind of schemes need to play a major role.
Efforts from different stakeholders such as the community, transport sector, insurance sector, health sector, police, legal sector, educational institutions, highway engineers, vehicle manufacturers, public agencies, NGOs and etc. are needed.
Students should be given big opportunity to be participated in the road safety week programme as to change something, youths of the country must understand first.
Here, India can learn from Sweden’s ‘Vision Zero’ approach which focuses on three things
Safety comes first– human life and health above all other transportation challenges
Account for the human error– transportation systems, including roads and vehicles, need to be designed taking into account that people might make mistakes, so that when crashes occur owing to human error, it does not result in fatalities or serious injuries.
We’re in it together– there is a joint responsibility for safety between the road user and road authorities. Conventional thinking is to attribute the cause of most road accidents to a single factor, and more often than not, to driver or pedestrian behaviour.
Coordinated strategy– comprehensive and consolidated strategy to road safety that involves all authorities and agencies responsible for road transport systems. Thus, departments working in silos will have limited impact, as road safety is a multi-disciplinary problem. It requires unified strategic vision to be set that lays out the mechanisms for coordination between all stakeholders.
Connecting the dots:
What is the importance of road safety in the Indian economy and society? Discuss