More than 1.3 million people died in preventable road crashes and another 5.3 million were left disabled for life in the last decade in India. This is an alarming sign for any country and the problem needs an urgent fix
India accounts for a significant number of road fatalities. The road safety issue in Indian cities is becoming a critical topic of discussion. The good news is the government is taking a serious note of this and has already taken a number of policy initiatives.
I recently came across a survey conducted by Save Life Foundation on different aspects of road safety in Indian cities which said almost 80 per cent people feel unsafe while crossing the road. The other findings of the survey suggested that 59 per cent did not give a test to get a driving license and over 40 per cent people do not wear helmets while riding two-wheelers and over 60 per cent four-wheeler passengers do not wear seat belts. All the issues raised in the survey are of serious nature and need urgent attention. Most of us know that getting a driving license in many parts of India is easy and in most of the cases, people need not give a test. People from small and medium-sized cities will readily agree with this observation. At the ground level, local officials need to focus on strict implementation of norms for making our roads safer.
Another alarming news is that most of the small cars running on Indian roads do not perform well on safety standards. Global New Car Assessment Programme (GNCAP), a UK-based non-profit organisation that conducts crash safety tests on cars across the world, has rated Indian cars poorly. However, the Union government has stepped up its initiative to ensure safety of road users.
The Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways (MoRTH) is making several strides in road safety with awareness programs and new policy initiatives. It has started running several advertising and capacity building programs for road users and traffic operators to improve road safety measures in India.
Based on the globally accepted multi-pronged strategy and the safe-system approach for improving road safety, the National Road Safety Policy outlines the initiatives to be taken by the Government at all levels. As per the Policy, the Government will provide assistance to local bodies, Union Territories and States to improve the quality of crash investigation and of data collection, transmission and analysis. A National Road Safety Information System will be established for providing continuity and policy guidelines to this activity. It also says, “The Government will take steps to ensure that safety features are built in at the stage of design, manufacture, usage, operation and maintenance of both motorized and non-motorized vehicles in line with international standards and practices in order to minimize adverse safety and environmental effects of vehicle operation on road users (including pedestrians and bicyclists) and infrastructure.”
Recently, the Ministry announced that all new cars launched in India starting October 2018 will have to comply with the mandatory pedestrian safety features. The government has also mandated to have electronic stability programs and autonomous emergency braking mandatory by 2022 across all segments of vehicles to bring in road-safety at par with international standards. Now it is to be seen how bureaucracy responds to these