Everyone deserves to be safe, it is not dependent on economic status, says SaveLIFE’s Piyush Tewari

SaveLIFE’s Piyush Tewari highlights the need for effective leadership to ensure proper implementation of safety regulations in the country.

Everyone deserves to be safe, it is not dependant on economic status, says SaveLIFE's Piyush Tewari
Many safety features like anti-lock braking system, the electronic stability of the two-wheeler is currently available only in premium models. Tewari highlights need to make it easily available across price range. (Image from FE Online Media Library)

Invariably when one is discussing road safety or vehicle safety, a major chunk of the conversation concentrates on cars and safety aspects surrounding passenger vehicles. However, the 2021 data from the NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) indicates that the maximum number of deaths were of two-wheeler users (44.5%) in case of road accidents followed by car users (15.1%) and pedestrians (12.2%).

In fact, an analysis by Bosch in 2019 also highlights that likelihood of fatalities amongst two-wheeler users is almost 20 times more than passenger vehicle users. Therefore, the focus, when it comes to road safety, needs to go beyond cars. There is urgent need to address buses, trucks, two-wheelers, pedestrians, cyclists, all the vulnerable road users who are getting drastically affected by this issue.

Piyush Tewari, Founder & CEO at SaveLIFE Foundation says two-wheelers need to more conspicuous on the roads for enhancing user safety (Image Credit: SaveLIFE Foundation).

Piyush Tewari, Founder & CEO at SaveLIFE Foundation highlights that the aspect of being conspicuous is a key factor. Compared to cars or trucks and buses, the two-wheeler is a relatively smaller unit on the road and often not visible from a distance. As a result, he suggests that there is “need for the vehicle to be visible, even at night and in dark patches and under all condition. On this aspect of making them conspicuous, there is very little work that has been done. Features like daytime running lights, and all of that a part of making the vehicle conspicuous has to be incorporated.”

The second aspect of two-wheeler safety is the the braking systems, Tewari points out. “the anti-lock braking system, the electronic stability of the two-wheeler,” are amongst key safety features that are seen mostly in premium level two-wheelers, “whereas safety is something that should not, be determined by the economic status of the user. Everybody deserves to be safe. So, that’s the other aspect that remains unaddressed.”

The third aspect, according to Tewari, is the need for innovation in the field of helmet technology as as well as two-wheeler airbags as these are key requirements to “prevent a serious injury in the event of a two-wheeler meeting a crash.” None of this at this point of time has been a big focus area for the industry and Tewari blieves it is hightime that the industry focus shifts to “active safety of two-wheeler riders, as opposed to the passive safety features.”

But the topic of road safety is incomplete without an adequate reference to pedestrian safety. In India, pedestrians constitute a large part of the road. An issue, hitherto ignored, Tewari highlights the significant need to “redesign streets and highways, considering the fact that pedestrians are a huge population in our country, unlike the West where, most people have access to safe cars or other modes of transport.”

“So the number one aspect is the aspect of road design with adequate facilities for pedestrians have to be thought through and we’re not just talking about foot over bridges,” he adds.

The second aspect of pedestrian safety is the safety of children and animals and how we are providing. Again this fall in the realm of engineering and according to Tewari, a key challenge as far as animals are concerned.” Apart from the engineering issues that need to be dealt with, he highlights the need to increase awareness, “our signages are primarily meant for motorised transport, the signage for pedestrians and for educating pedestrians are almost entirely missing. So, we need to be able to develop a sign code, which is relevant for the pedestrian also.”

Read More: SaveLIFE Foundation’s Piyush Tewari lists out 5 Is of enhancing road safety in India

According to him, not only it is important to put signages in place, there is also need to make these more communicative through graphics, mages, stencil designs, and the like. However, enforcing the rules and appropriate implementation are key parts of the jigsaw puzzle that needs to fit properly to ensure actual impact of safety regulations. In this context, Tewari points out the global trend – “shift from human enforcement to electronic enforcement. And the reason for that is that human enforcement has multiple limitations, in terms of bandwidth ability to be attentive for 24/7and the like. The moment you shift to electronic enforcement, you know that a camera is not going to go home at eight o’clock, camera can’t be bribed.”

Moreover, electronic systems are geared to capture a lot more violation than what the human eye can potentially do. “So there is definitely a big need to shift to electronic enforcement,” he adds.

“The third aspect of enforcement is the education aspect.” Tewari explains. He starts it is important to make users aware about the various safety aspects and their benefits and undertake any tough penalty only after adequate awareness. He cites examples of the regulation with regards to rear seatbelts. On the books, it is mandatory but according to him, “if you have to start a rear seatbelt enforcement, I think perhaps carrying out a one month campaign on the benefits of rear seatbelt before we start enforcement might lead to higher compliance because people will then know that they have been given an opportunity to be educated.”

He signs off highlighting the need for appropriate leadership in bringing about effective enforcement of safety regulations on Indian roads. It is necessary to chart out “a progressive enforcement strategy and only then can we see ongoing enforcement.”

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First published on: 17-10-2022 at 12:10 IST