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Speeding to blame for increase in pedestrian deaths

On the first of the two-day global conclave by WRI India, ‘Connect Karo’, transport and road safety experts discussed how high vehicular speed was a primary reason behind unsafe public spaces for pedestrians and cyclists.

delhi Updated: Mar 29, 2019 03:00 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi
deaths,pedestrian,WRI
Vice-president Venkaiah Naidu releases a booklet on Climate Explorer on Day 1 of ‘Connect Karo’, organised by WRI India, on Thursday.(PIB)

Building city infrastructure to speed up vehicular movement can be the cause of increased fatalities among pedestrians and cyclists, a study by the World Resource Institute (WRI) has found.

On the first of the two-day global conclave by WRI India, ‘Connect Karo’, transport and road safety experts discussed how high vehicular speed was a primary reason behind unsafe public spaces for pedestrians and cyclists.

Aniruddha (Ani) Dasgupta, the Global Director of WRI Ross Centre for Sustainable Cities, said that studies have proven that pedestrian death risk declines with lowered vehicular speeds and cities should move their focus from increasing the speed of vehicles to building more inclusive infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists.

“In Delhi, only 20% of the population own cars, but all roads and the city’s infrastructure are planned around these 20%. There is a natural assumption that the roads are for cars,” said Dasgupta.

Studies presented during the discussion showed that if a vehicle is at a speed of 50kmph, the chance of it killing a pedestrian or a cyclist increased up to 85%. As the speed goes down to 30kmph the likelihood of a fatality also decreases to as low as 10%.

Explaining the impact of the accident caused by a high speed vehicle, Dasgupta said that a vehicle hitting a pedestrian with a speed of 80kmph causes the same damage as a person falling from an eight storey building.

In Punjab and Haryana through a pilot project, ‘vision zero’—a partnership between WRI and the state governments to make road infrastructure safe for all users—minor changes were made in the design to bring down the speed of vehicles.

This, in just 12 months, brought down road fatalities.

Sarika Panda, head (integrated transport and road safety) at WRI, said that in Haryana, the ‘vision zero’ project was launched in 2017 in 10 priority districts. By January 2019, the project has expanded to all 22 districts in the state and major improvements have been found.

“In one year alone, we were able to save around 230 lives and Rs 276 crore of government money,” she said.

With minor tweaks in road design — such as creating table top crossings to reduce speed and adopting speed calming measures in highways — was all it took to start seeing favourable results.

Sharad Chauhan, additional director general police (traffic) with Punjab police, said that road accidents are no less than a public health emergency.

“Statistics show that every day around two murders take place in the state but at least 13 die in road accidents every day. This is an issue that needs the attention of the government agencies,” Chauhan said.

First Published: Mar 29, 2019 03:00 IST