According to the transport department's statistics as on March 2010, more than 33 people are killed and 127 injured every day in road accidents in Maharashtra.
In Mumbai, at least one person dies and at least 13 people are injured every day. Experts say lack of awareness about safe driving and inefficient driving schools are the major reasons for fatal accidents. But, this picture may change with the setting up of the first ever 'road safety institute' in the state.
Western India Automobile Association (WIAA) will establish the institute in Indapur, Pune district. The WIAA has got 11.5 acres of land in Indapur from the government on lease for 99 years. The project will cost WIAA Rs18 crore, of which the state transport department will allot some funds.
The road safety institute that will start operations by the end of 2012, aims to train 2,400 drivers a year, which will include public transport drivers, city-based transport such as BEST in Mumbai, taxis and autorickshaws and commercial transportation such as truck drivers, heavy motor vehicles, tempos, private buses and car drivers.
"The institute can bring in revolution on road safety and upgrade the standard of training drivers, as our public transport drivers, private car drivers and drivers operating heavy motor vehicles, will be professionally trained to make our roads safer across Maharashtra," said Nitin Dossa, executive chairman of the WIAA. According to Dossa, this training will be compulsory for all new and old drivers. They will be given a certificate from WIAA acknowledging their training and performance, which will help them get the licence.
State transport commissioner Dilip Jadhav, said, "It is a good initiative by WIAA, which is a credible institution and will help us find ways to improve road safety. There are institutes in Chennai and Ahmedabad that have been successful," Jadhav said.
Transport expert Sudhir Badami says it's a good initiative but the number of drivers to be trained is huge and challenging for such a institute, "Many accidents happen on highways because drivers are not properly trained on the difference between highway driving and urban driving," Badami said.