In the last couple of decades, India has witnessed a boom in population, thanks to our swelling economy. As a result, the number of vehicles plying on the road on an everyday basis also doubled during that time. Improvement of connectivity among the roads surely acted as a catalyst but it also came with a serious disadvantage, which was road accident. According to reliable sources, everyday people die of road accidents, with a global estimation of approximately 1.2 million per annum. In 2007, an approximate of 1.15 lakh people died due to accidents on road in India (Source: NCRB). Another data suggests that the total economic loss India underwent in the Financial Year of 2009-10 due to road accidents was Rs 3, 00,000 Crores which was more than twice the net defence budget in India. The year 2015 witnessed a total of 5.01 lakh road accidents, among which approximate 1.5 lakh people died. In order to prevent the increasing number of road accidents, the Union Road Transport Ministry is all set to implement road safety measures in all the vehicles from July 1, 2019.
Steps Taken So Far:
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways have embarked on a number of measures earlier to prevent road accidents and promote road safety. The Central Motor Vehicle Rules which was passed in 1989 states some clauses on the use of seat belts for road safety measures.
Measures regarding seat belts by the provision of 1989
- Sub-rule (1) of rule 125 or sub-rule (1A) of rule 125A, all the motor vehicles in motion on the road must be equipped with seat belts.
- Rule 125(1) makes it important for every motor vehicle manufacturer except motorcycles and three-wheelers, all those which have an engine capacity within 500cc, must have a seat belt for the driver and the person seated in the rear seat.
- Rule 125(1A) states that the manufacturer of all motor vehicles which is required for carrying passengers and their luggage and having no more than 8 seats in addition to the driver’s seat shall provide seat belts for the driver and the person in the front seat.
- As per the provisions laid down in sub-rule (3) of Rule 138 of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules 1989, in a motor vehicle, the persons seated in the front seat should wear seat belts compulsorily when the vehicle is in motion.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has in addition, undertaken a number of steps for preventing accidents on road.
- Inclusion of safety measures for motor vehicles like power-steering, seat-belts, anti-lock braking system etc.
- A National Road Safety Policy has been outlined by the Government. The policy chalks out some measures like promoting awareness, developing an information data base on road safety, developing safer road infrastructure like enforcing safety laws, application of intelligent transport.
- A detailed and multifaceted strategy should be outlined to focus on the issues of road safety based on 4 ‘E’s, which are- Emergency Care, Education, Enforcement and Engineering (both roads and vehicles).
- Identify and modification of accident-prone areas or black spots on national highways is a must. So far 700 of such spots have been pointed out by the Government.
The Upcoming Initiative:
Unfortunately, this hasn’t created a dent on the number of road accidents that happen every year. In order to tighten the road safety measures, the Union Road Transport Ministry has directed that all motor vehicles manufactured after July 1, 2019, must be equipped with cutting-edge seat belt reminders, airbags, alert systems for cars crossing the permitted speed of 80 kmph, reverse parking alerts, manual override of the central locking system in case of emergencies. Presently, a handful of luxury cars own these equipments, but for the sake of the bigger masses and the pedestrians, the Government has issued directives for all motor vehicle manufacturers to include these safety measures. The move has been approved by the Union Road Transport Minister, Nitin Gadkari. An official of the transport ministry said, “The new cars will be fitted with a system that issues audio alerts when the speed crosses 80kmph. The alert will be sharper when the vehicle crosses 100kmph, and non-stop when it’s over 120 kmph.” Transport ministry further says that nearly 74,000 of the 1.5 lakh accidents have ended in death due to speeding cars in 2016-2017. On 7th March, 2017, Bengal’s legendary folk singer Kalika Prasad died in a fatal road accident on Durgapur Express Highway at Gurap near Hooghly District in West Bengal.
According to the new measures in case of any electric failure which can render the central locking system dysfunctional, the manual override system will make an easy exit. A quote from the Transport Ministry says, “To reduce the possibility of accidents while parking in reverse gear, the provision of reverse parking alert is being introduced. When the car is put in reverse gear, the feature will give an indication to the driver whether there are objects in the rear monitoring range”.
According to the Global NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme), seven popular cars couldn’t qualify on any rating by a test done in May 2016. Brand names including Mahindra Scorpio, Hyundai Eon, Renault Kwid 1, 2 and 3, Maruti Suzuki Eco couldn’t even garner a single star rating due to poor in-built safety measures. The global safety experts declared that none of the vehicles plying on the road should become a death trap for passengers and pedestrians alike. With a view to prevent road mishap, the Slovenian Traffic Safety Agency and European Transport Safety Council came together in Austria on 23rd July, 2017 to chalk measures for better road safety, effective precautionary measures and infrastructures for vehicles. In order to keep up with the international standards of road safety, the Ministry of Transport is gearing up for beefing up adequate security measures in the new motor vehicles to be manufactured after July 1, 2019. The ministry further added that reverse sensors and air bags are must for the light commercial vehicles mainly found in the metropolitan cities. A reliable source has added that enforcing the said provisional measures will make way for fast execution of frontal and side crash test for vehicles.
– Adrija Bose