Dr. Banarsi Lal, Dr. Pawan Sharma
India celebrated 31st National Road Safety Week from 11th to 17th of January, 2020. Every year this week is celebrated across the nation with a message on road safety among the masses of the nation. Awareness on road safety is created among the people and variety of road safety posters, banners, road safety films, pocket guides, leaflets, chocolates, flowers, awards etc. are distributed among the road traveler during the whole week. Road travelers are guided and suggested to use the road safety measures and follow traffic rules. Various essay writing competitions, painting and drawing competitions, quiz competitions, road safety announcements, exhibitions, road rules test, girls scooter rallies are conducted to promote the awareness on road safety. Use of helmets, debates, seminars, workshops etc. are also organised across the nation during this week. The week focuses on reduction of speed and creates awareness on this key risk factor for road traffic deaths and injuries. Speed contributes to around one-third of all fatal road traffic crashes in high-income countries and up to half in low- and middle-income countries. The week seeks to increase understanding of the dangers of speed and generates action on measures to address speed, thus saving valuable lives on the roads. Endevours are needed to save lives on the roads due to road accidents. According to the UN health agency 5% cut in average speed can reduce 30 % of fatal road accidents. Road accidents involve high human suffering and monetary losses in terms of untimely deaths, injuries and loss of potential income. Slow speed can reduce the road accidents and also the pedestrians can also pass easily and safely alongside the road.
The Indian Government has undertaken many initiatives and is implementing various road safety improvement programmes but still the desired results are awaited. According to Global Road Safety Report India accounts for more than 1, 35,000 deaths every year. One road accident occurs in every minute and one road accident death occurs in every four minutes. Unfortunately, more than half of the victims are in the economically active age group of 25-65 years. The loss of the main bread winner can be catastrophic. There is dire need to prevent the road traffic accidents to protect the valuable human resource in the country. Various countries have adopted a multipronged approach for the road safety such as traffic management, design and quality of roads infrastructure, application of intelligent transport system, safer vehicles, law enforcement, effective and quick accident response and care etc. The Government alone cannot tackle road safety problems but the people can play an important role to prevent the road accidents. There is dire need for active involvement of all stake- holders to promote policy reforms and implementation of road safety measures. Road safety should involve multiple agencies and sectors like health, transport and police and the citizens are urged to drive slow. There is dire need to create awareness and guidelines on road safety. More than 1.2 million people are killed and another 50 million are injured annually in traffic collisions worldwide. More than 40 per cent of them are under 26 years of age. Road traffic injuries are the second leading cause of death for people in this age group. Young men are nearly three times more likely to be killed or injured on the roads than young women. The Commission for Global Road Safety believes that the urgent priority is to halt this appalling and avoidable rise in road injuries and then begin to achieve year on year reductions. The world could prevent millions of deaths and millions of serious injuries by 2020 by dramatically scaling up investment in road safety, at global, regional and national levels. Twenty to fifty million more people sustain non-fatal injuries from a collision and these injuries are an important cause of disability worldwide. Ninety percent of road traffic deaths occur in low and middle-income countries, which claim less than half of the world’s registered vehicle fleet. Unless immediate and effective action is taken, road traffic injuries are predicted to become the leading cause of death in the world. This is also as a result of rapid increases in motorization without sufficient improvement in road safety strategies and land use planning.
In India mobile phones and personalized vehicles are increasing at the same growth rate. It is estimated that India has so number of cars that if they are put together in a single lane, it will reach from New Delhi to New York. Projection of the present trend of vehicles usage reveals a rather ugly and unsustainable situation both in terms of traffic congestion and safety. It is worthwhile to mention here that the population of India increased by 17.64 percent over the past ten years and the number of licensed vehicles increased by 132 percent over the same period. Road accidents situation in India has worsened in the recent years. Concomitantly, traffic risks and exposure have grown during the recent years. Human loss in the road accidents and fatalities badly affects the economy of any nation. Road accidents occur due to various factors such as the length of road network, vehicle population, human population and enforcement of road safety regulations etc. Higher exposure to road accidents risk may be mitigated by behavioral standards by adhering to road safety regulations and policy interventions. Scientific research is needed to develop and test new road safety measures. New technologies should be utilized to design the intelligent vehicles for road safety in terms of injury reduction, crash avoidance, exposure and post-crash notification of collision. There is need to improve the layout and design of roads. Skid resistant surfaces should be introduced. Appropriate speed limits should be set according to the area.
Although all types of road users are at risk of being injured or killed in road traffic crash but there are notable differences in fatality rates between different roads user groups. Separate routes for pedestrians and two-wheelers users should be defined as they are at more risk than vehicle occupants and bear the great burden of injury. The scientific literature and national road safety programmes agree that a package of effective measures is necessary to reduce alcohol-related crashes and injuries. Mix traffic should be prevented and roads should be separated for different types of vehicles. The fitness tests of motor vehicles should be regularly carried out and subjective evaluation of vehicles should be done by the inspecting officers. This can also prevent road accidents and also reduce the environmental pollution. There is need to design the Inspection and Certification system throughout the country to ensure the proper inspection of vehicles. The defect should be removed before to use the vehicle on road. Enforcement levels need to be high and maintained over a period of time. Improved lighting, signs and markings should be made along the roadside. In India drink-driving is significant and widespread factor in road crashes. There is need of advance scientific research for designing the strategy to prevent the road accidents.
Dr. Banarsi Lal, Dr. Pawan Sharma