The year has almost come to an end, and through the year one of the things we worried our heads over was road safety. From what is being done, to our own two cents we have strived to make our contribution towards safer roads in India. The government has been taking a stronger stand with stronger policies grassroots initiatives, sterner action against offenders and the introduction of high tech monitoring system. Vehicles too have started getting safer with more mandatory safety features being prescribed by the government. Many cars now come more or less with standard dual airbags, ABS and EBD. As for bikes, ABS will soon be mandatory for bikes above 125cc and Combi-braking for bikes/ scooters below the 125cc mark. We have taken many a step in the right direction, the question is, are Indian roads safer than they were last year. Let's take a closer look:
A decline in Road Accidents
The last drawn estimate indicated that 1.5 lakh people die in India every year in road accidents. Thankfully, in recent years that number has been going down. In 2017, fatalities in accidents are lower by 3.3 per cent, while injuries are lower by 4.8 per cent. It's a small movement but we will take it as it's a step in the right direction and numbers are forecasted to decrease even more so in the coming months.
More Focus on proper driver training
A renewed focus on driver training has been a focus area as the lack of formal driving training modules have emerged as the key factor behind accidents caused due to lack of compliance. As scary as this may sound only, 10% of the Indian commercial drivers are formally trained, which means that the remaining 90% have been trained by a friend or relative, while some are even self-taught. Model driving training institutes are set up in states and refresher training to drivers of Heavy Motor Vehicle in the unorganized sector have been organized by the government to address this issue. In a bid to provide the best infrastructure for this, private companies like Maruti Suzuki have partnered with the government to setup IDTRs. Till date 28 IDTR has been sanctioned out of which 16 are functional.
Technology to Traffic Management
Deterrents are important to road safety and one of the major moves by the government has been the implementation of automated challan systems, that is capable of identifying number plates of offenders and issuing challans to them automatically. Some even more advanced systems are capable of sending a text to the vehicle owner. While cities like Mumbai and Kolkata already have this system in operation, Delhi has proposed a 14km Ring Road corridor from Dhaula Kuan to Sarai Kale Khan, which will be under automated surveillance for speeding violations.
Like it or not India is country where celebrities often have the last word in most social matters and culture. The Road Transport Ministry is drawing on the power of celebrity endorsements with Akshay Kumar entering as a brand ambassador, for its roads safety awareness campaign. Three videos featuring the Bollywood actor as traffic police inspector cracking down on violators have been released over the course of the year. Additionally, cash prizes ranging between 5 lakhs, 2 lakhs and 1 lakh in each State or UT have been announced for road safety champions.
If the 21st Century has taught us anything it's the importance of information. Sometimes having the right information at the right time can be crucial. In that light, the launch of the Sukhad Yatra app by the National Highways Authorities of India has been a crucial move to secure highway transit. The app pioneered by Union minister Nitin Gadkari includes provision for the user to enter road quality-related information or to report any accident or pothole on the highway. It also provides users with real-time data related to waiting time expected at Plazas and various facilities like points of interest, highway nest/nest mini, etc., available across the highway. The app can also be used by the users to purchase the FASTag tag and further facilitate the highway user experience.