With increasing vehicular traffic the number of people killed annually in road accidents in the country has jumped by more than 500 per cent during the last three decades.
If the fatalities due to road accidents in the year 1974 were around 17,000, by 2004 they had gone upto over 92,000. What is of concern is the steep rise noticed each year between 2000 to 2004. In year 2000 persons killed was over 78,000, in 2001 it was over 80,000, in 2002 it was over 84,000, in 2003 it was over 86,000 and in 2004 it was over 92,000.
The number of persons injured during the same period 1974 – 2004 went up by about six times from 76,000 to 4,64,000 thousand. The National Road Safety Policy may come out soon.
Officials sources told Hindustan Times that recommendations of S Sunder Committee on National Road Safety Board and Traffic Management including National Road Safety Policy is expected by the third week of January.
Soon after UPA government took over Committee of Infrastructure headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had set up the committee. Even though the road accidents had increased with a total vehicle population standing at 60 million today, the number of fatalities per 10,000 vehicles has been going down over the years, official sources added.
However, with steady annual increase in automobiles at around 10 per cent now safety was becoming a very crucial issue. The 18th annual Road Safety Week is being observed this week in the entire country.
The government has been emphasising road safety in all its aspects like engineering, enforcement, education, environment and emergency management (trauma care). A chapter on road safety has been included in the NCERT syllabus for schools to create awareness among children about the issue of road safety.
Government plans to start at least one model driver training school in every state as 70 per cent of accidents take place due to driver’s fault.
Safety audit of roads and emergency management at time of accidents on highways with help of NGOs is being taken up.
President Intelligent Transportation Systems (India) Amitabh Bajpai said ITS (India) is an association of industry, academia and government primarily advocating ITS policies and implementation, creating awareness and sensitising stakeholders on road safety.
We are not prioritising ITS which can play an important part in emergency management, in toll roads, in traffic information systems.
"We must be clear on what government means by safety? Safety is not just wearing seat belts or helmets. The issue is bigger and government needs to fix targets and have a road map to bring down the number of fatalities let’s say 50 per cent by 2015 so that even car and scooter manufacturer’s will look beyond seat belts and helmets," he added.
In Europe they have come out with a Zero Vision plan to bring down fatalties by road accidents to zero by the year 2020, he added.
ITS (India) was involved in eSafety project with the European Union to improve road safety and efficiency of transportation in India through deployment of intelligent transport systems and services and intelligent vehicle safety systems. European Commission is contributing Euro 248,400 for the project.