In the past decade, over 1 million people have been killed in road crashes in India, with 16 deaths recorded every hour in 2014 alone. In 2016, more than 2,31,000 people lost their lives in road accidents and a higher number of people were wounded. For the ones driving or riding lighter vehicles like small cars, autos, two-wheelers and cycles, the danger is more.
But road accidents not only happen due to rash driving by vehicles, but exercising poor safety rules by pedestrians adds to the woes. Jaywalking is a major cause of road accidents. Instead of waiting for the traffic signal to turn green, people lose patience and run to reach to the other side of the road. This is extremely dangerous if a speeding car suddenly comes and you might not notice it.
Keeping road safety in mind, the government has come up with several regulations. The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was passed by the Parliament last year. The amendments are stringent on several fronts to ensure safety for the citizens, including heavy fines for traffic violators. The law also set a fine on car owners who let minors drive. Further, in the case of an accident caused by the juvenile, his/her family will be fined up to Rs 25,000, with or without imprisonment of up to three years.
In the past as well the government had brought in laws to prevent road accidents and promote road safety. The Central Motor Vehicle Rules was passed in 1989 and included clauses on the use of seat belts. Apart from this, a national road safety policy was outlined by the government, while bringing in other reforms.
However, is this enough?
Last year, 1,46,377 people died in road accidents – this was 3% lower than in 2016, but still a high number.
The statistics clearly show that we need more than just laws to ensure road safety. We need people to realise the repercussions of not adhering to safety regulations.
Jubilant FoodWorks Ltd with their #RoadSafety campaign aims to create awareness among citizens about road safety. They have designed an innovative campaign that will target colleges in major cities of India – New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore. In a month long initiative, Jubilant FoodWorks will conduct workshops where participants will be trained to handle minor casualties. The key objective of the campaign is to sensitise, build awareness and train the target group of youth – motor vehicle drivers and street pedestrians – towards road safety.
It is commendable that Jubilant FoodWorks is taking up the cause of road safety from a different perspective. While most talk about accidents revolve around law, this initiative is trying to reach the root of the problem.
Have you ever spotted a speeding car without a care for the traffic signal? Ever spotted a person rushing to the other side of the road when the traffic light is green? Ever seen bikers use pavements as roads to save a few minutes? Ever seen cars change lanes on highways or rush hour traffic on a whim? Well, so have thousands of other Indians.
Road safety in India is a serious concern. For a country that boasts the second largest road network in the world, it is inarguable that we need to pay more attention to our safety on roads – a place where we step out every day, spend a handsome amount of our time.
The government has come up with several regulations on road safety, but is this enough? Not if awareness around the topic is still lacking.
The intention behind the initiative is to bring together lawmakers, local authorities, traffic police and citizens under one umbrella.
The cities will be rated on parameters such as Pedestrian Rights, Road Lighting and Maintenance, Motor Laws and Traffic Control, Emergency Services, Road Cleanliness, Connectivity, Road Transport Infrastructure, Heavy Vehicle Traffic Management, Road Safety, Differently abled friendly, Road Quality and Road Safety For Children.
Here are the ten cities that were chosen for Road Safety Index 2018 and the reasons that make their roads safe or unsafe:
Mumbai has facilities for the differently-abled like reservations in public transports, special train compartments, concessions on fares, etc. The city that never sleeps scored the best when it comes to citizens’ participation in making the city accepting and warm toward the differently-abled. It won the category ‘Differently-Abled Friendly’.
However, there are areas of improvement – illegal hawkers, pavements and footpaths need to be fixed or reconstructed.
Anyone who hails from the capital of West Bengal knows about its recreational parks and brightly lit streets. Its traffic police deserve special mention for redirecting rush traffic every day as Kolkata roads are narrow and many are one-way streets.
During Durga Puja, the city tries to make Pandals differently-abled friendly by installing ramps.
It won the categories – ‘Road Lighting & Maintenance’ and ‘Road Safety For Children’.
But the City of Joy needs to work more on giving its residents #HappyRoads. Issues of waterlogging and numerous street hawkers, roadside vendors in busy areas need to be solved.
There’s no one who’s been to Delhi and not praised its excellent connectivity. Delhi prides itself for broad roads, top-notch metros, pavements and foot over bridges. The national capital surely serves as an example for cities across India when it comes to road connectivity hence, it won the categories ‘Connectivity’ and ‘Road Quality’ in the Road Safety Index.
While Delhi has made many of its public places differently-abled friendly, the areas that need improvement are long hours in traffic, fixing of roads that pose a hindrance to daily commute and rash driving by bikers.
The city boasts well-marked zebra crossings, adequate footpaths for pedestrians, underground SMART dustbins, reduced encroachments. Raipur fares well in almost all parameters of road safety. It won the category of ‘Road Safety’ and ‘Pedestrian Rights’.
However, the city could do better with stricter fines for traffic violators and awareness about road safety and garbage disposal.
Other cities can take inspiration from Chennai on how to ensure good road safety. The city has wide, well-connected roads that are lit properly. It also boasts rigorous night patrolling where traffic rules violators are fined. One of the best initiatives taken by Chennai is the separate parking space on city roads that prevent traffic from accumulating. It came out on top in the category ‘Motor Laws & Traffic Control’.
Areas where Chennai needs to improve are street lighting and cleanliness.
Indore is one of the few cities that has used plastic waste for construction of roads and covered garbage disposals, which explains why the city won the ‘Road Cleanliness’ category. Indore also has adequate zebra crossings, visual signals, street lights, footpaths.
But areas where the city needs improvement are – strict action against traffic violators, public spaces more differently-abled friendly.
There is a lot to learn from the road safety measures implemented by Ahmedabad – sound medical facilities, separate lanes for local buses, special cab service for differently-abled, wide roads. Ahmedabad won in the category ‘Emergency Services’, ‘Road Transport Infrastructure’ and ‘Heavy Vehicle Traffic Management’.
If the Heritage City improves road safety awareness among citizens, it’s bound to fare even better. Better street lighting and lesser encroachments will work in favour of Ahmedabad.
The other cities shortlisted were Pune, Bangalore and Hyderabad but they didn’t win any category.
Maruti Suzuki’s initiative to rank cities will encourage citizens and administration to do better and emerge on top.
The Logical Indian community wholeheartedly appreciates the various initiatives undertaken by Maruti-Suzuki in this direction. Not only the government but we, as citizens of this country, should also pledge to make our roads safe. One of the first steps towards this is that we understand our duties.
We hope the authorities take a note while we pledge to do our own bit towards happier, safer Indian roads.
For more information about the Maruti Suzuki’s initiative and the Road Safety Indexclick here.