Sadak Suraksha – Jivan Raksha
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General Studies 2
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
General Studies 3
- Infrastructure: Roads
In news: 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.
India remains one of the top accident-prone nations in the world.
Road traffic deaths have reached alarming levels across the world, with 1.35 million people dying in traffic accidents every year, but India’s road safety is the worst on record. Around 149,000 people lost their lives on Indian roads in 2018 alone. India accounts for about 2% of motor vehicles globally, yet it’s responsible for more than 11% of road traffic deaths.
To add some context, this figure is 37.54 per cent more than the total number of people killed in floods and heavy rains in the last 65 years in India.
- More fatal than war in Afghanistan that started after the 9/11 terror attacks.
- More casualties than Vietnam War, more than twice the estimated casualties of South Vietnamese soldiers (2.5 lakh) in the Vietnam War that spanned 20 years between 1955 and 1975
- Deadlier than HIV/AIDS
- A mass murderer: On the global scale, the World Health Organisation estimates that 58,00,000 people die every year due some form of injury. Of these, only 3 per cent are related to war and conflict, while 21 per cent are related to road accidents. Yet, road accidents and road safety receive a fraction of the attention that is devoted to war and conflict.
- Vastly debilitating: Of every 100 road accidents in India, 32 are the ones in which at least one person is killed and 26 are the ones in which victims suffer grievous injuries that require hospitalisation.
How to make roads safer not just for ourselves but for everyone around us –
Sweden implemented a Vision Zero initiative in the 90s that helped reduce fatalities dramatically over the years. The approach that they took was not to treat the people as the problem, but the way the system has been engineered.
- 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.
In one of the interviews, a Swedish traffic safety strategist outlines perfectly solutions they implemented to change the system and local culture so that the system was safe for people to be in.
- Reducing fatalities by reducing the speed limits. Also, installing speed bumps.
- Installing bike lanes with barriers to protect cyclists
- Installing roundabouts at intersections to force cars to slow down
- Changing traffic lights so cars aren’t prompted with a caution light when pedestrians are crossing. If pedestrians are crossing, all cars must wait.
- Installing cameras to discourage bad behavior, with signage leading up to pedestrian areas that there are cameras ahead.
- Preventing jaywalking, especially in unlit areas, by putting up barriers in medians, thus forcing pedestrians to use the crosswalks.
Technology at our Aid
India needs to adopt Integrated Traffic Management Systems (ITMSs) or adopt initiatives like computerised testing and remote supervision of driving tests. While fully automated systems will possibly be brought to execution across all the states over the next few years, other high-tech devices like body-worn cameras, LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) guns, alco-meters (breath analysers) can keep contributing towards effective and ethical enforcement.
Several modern-day equipments are getting institutionalised between the central and state administrations, many emerging mechanisms will soon see the light of the day. Technology holds the key to finding solutions that are actionable, measurable, scalable and reliable, translating into better, faster and more productive enforcement. Amidst increasing motorisation, tech-oriented policies and solutions will expand the capabilities of enforcement, bringing a positive change in the national road safety status and strengthening India’s agenda of reducing crash deaths by half, quicker than human effort alone ever will.
Will this cost money? Sure, but if it saves even one life these changes are more than necessary. These are long-term solutions that we need to be talking about now. We as a community must be proactive to prevent future fatalities and accidents.
A. Odisha : ‘Road Safety’ To Be Included In School Syllabus – It has been decided that a chapter on road safety will be included in Class X syllabus from the next academic session. The School and Mass Education department will take a call on the outline of the syllabus.
B. India has signed the Brasilia declaration to reduce road traffic deaths 50% by 2020
C. Rs 14,000-crore state support plan to strengthen road safety
- The transport ministry has firmed up a Rs 14,000 crore state support programme for strengthening road safety in India, which will be funded by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
- The programme will be driven by a strict incentive-based structure for states delivering on road safety aspects, including reduction in fatalities.
- To incentivise states, a delivery matrix will be developed that will comprise mandatory as well as optional performance parameters. States’ performance will be assessed and the grant amount will be disbursed accordingly.
- Indicators will be focused around safe road infrastructure, safe vehicle standards, driver behaviour, road safety advocacy and enforcement of relevant laws.
- An apex monitoring body chaired by roads secretary will be constituted, with representatives from the ministries of home, health and family welfare, housing and urban affairs, heavy industries, and human resource development.
Connecting the Dots:
- Is the government playing a ‘Its “my” way versus “your” way’ game with the public? Discuss.
- The government, through the Motor Vehicle Amendment Act, has substantially increased the penalty for traffic rule violations.What is your opinion of this step? We lack basic facilities including good roads and related services. Is it not unethical on part of the government to have done this? Comment.
- In spite of the ambitious provisions in the amended Motor Vehicles law, safe road behaviour is still miles away. Do you agree? Discuss.
- Write a note on National urban transport policy.
- Examine the importance of better roads in promoting economic development and inclusive growth within the country.