Safety education should be a part of the school curriculum

Nations that have designed safer vehicles and roads and implemented effective traffic management systems have seen a steep fall in road accidents

analysis Updated: Apr 19, 2018 13:26 IST
Road accidents,Road safety,Mishaps
The accident site on the Yamuna Expressway, where three doctors from AIIMS, Delhi, were killed in a car mishap. (File photo)

Life is too precious to be lost on a kerbstone. Recently, a 22-year-old motorcyclist lost his life hit by a car in Delhi. There can be no consolation for lives lost so early, and so easily.

Around 46% of the Road Traffic Accident (RTA) victims in India are below 35, the economic, societal and emotional cost of which is enormous. In consonance with the Brasilia Declaration on Road Safety adopted in 2015, India has resolved to halve road accidents and fatalities by 2020. However, with 16 road accident deaths every hour, India clearly has a long way to go.

A country is known by its capital and the city by its traffic. It mirrors the collective discipline or the lack of it. Our national capital tops the country in road fatalities, according to the government’s Road Accidents in India 2016 report. This is a drag on the emergence of Brand India on the global stage.

Most traffic crashes are predictable and preventable. International road safety research has come up with some innovative ideas. Nations that have designed safer vehicles and roads and implemented effective traffic management systems have seen a steep fall in road accidents. Similar research needs to be conducted in India to roll out measures to prevent mishaps.

Many Delhi roads have flawed designs. Special guidelines are needed to design roundabouts and service lanes along intercity highways and for effective speed control. The lack of proper pedestrian crossings, faulty footbridge design, dingy subways, lack of signage and encroached footpaths are among the reasons that lead to accidents.

Owing to the population boom, limitation on car usage can be one of the solutions implemented to create order out of chaos. An integrated multimodal transport plan consisting of road, rail and metro-rail network should be evolved to make travel convenient. The reintroduction of the odd-even scheme can also be considered.

The population of Delhi is instinctively averse to change. Subways and footbridges lie unused as commuters stick to their old practices. Worse, pedestrians often cross heavy traffic zones instead of using subways and footbridges. The frequency of casualties can be reduced by imposing fines on jaywalking.

The traffic police deserve a better deal in terms of manpower and resources. Vacancies need to be filled and a boost given to projects such as the Delhi Traffic Police’s Accident Crash Lab. A proactive approach is required to apprehend offenders on the move with interceptors and mobile teams rather than static checking of documents at traffic intersections.

To maximise the effects of lthe aw, awareness drives and safety campaigns should be conducted on a sustained basis to improve behavioural factors. For an improved road culture, safety education should be a part of the school curriculum. Only then can the road safety norms become part of the popular DNA.

Yashovardhan Azad is a retired IPS officer and Central Information Commissioner, Government of India

The views expressed are personal

First Published: Apr 19, 2018 13:26 IST