As per Government data, there are 400 deaths due to road accidents in India every day. The situation is indeed alarming as according to figures released by the Government for the year 2015, there were 1,46,133 deaths due to road accidents in India in 2015, with May and March of the year seeing 14,000 fatalities. Figures for 2016 are still awaited. In fact, more lives are lost in India due to road accidents than natural disasters and diseases.
Road Safety Week
India will be celebrating the Road safety week from 11th of January (Wednesday) to the 17th of January (Tuesday), 2017. This campaign aims to emphasise and accentuate people about the need of safe roads travel by applying simple rules. The campaign will strive towards bringing about a general awareness among the public of India, including drivers and pedestrians, educating them about the dos and don’ts for road safety through educational banners, safety posters, safety films, pocket guides and leaflets.
All metropolitan cities including Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Baroda, Vadodara, Pune, Bhubaneswar, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, etc. will be observing the Road Safety Week. In view of the spate of road accidents and deaths as a result of it, this campaign is indeed very significant. Apart from educating the public about the preventive measures against road accidents, the highlights of the Road Safety Week initiated by the ISS India HSE (Health Safety and Environment) will also include:
- Implementation of the new preventative measures which are provided to lessen the risk of road accidents, death or injury.
- Involving the different stakeholders such as the community, transport sector, insurance sector, health sector, police, legal sector, educational institutions, highway engineers, vehicle manufacturers, public agencies, NGOs etc. towards road safety.
The Government Steps In
With the aim to tackle the problem of increase in the number of road accidents, the Central Government has proposed 68 amendments to 233 sections and the insertion of 28 new sections in the 1988 Motor Vehicle Act. The Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016 was introduced in the Lok Sabha by the Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, in August of 2016, and is currently with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Culture, and Tourism. The bill, once passed, will contribute towards an exhaustive and comprehensive legislative framework for road safety in India.
Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016 – Features
- Higher penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol, driving without the seat belt on, riding a two wheeler without helmet, and rash driving.
- Provision of cashless medical treatment to people injured in road accidents within the first hour of its occurrence.
- Increased compensation for the family of the individual dying in a hit-and-run case.
- Inclusion of the Good Samaritan Guidelines, wherein any bystander helping a road accident victim will be protected from civil and criminal liability, and can choose to remain anonymous.
- Inclusion of National Transportation Policy, which will work towards establishing a framework for road transportation planning, granting of permits, and identifying as well as prioritising the road transport system.
- Introduction of the ‘Motor Vehicle Accident Fund’, which will provide an automatic cover for all road accident victims in India.
- Recognition of Offences Committed by Juveniles, wherein the responsibility of traffic violations committed by juveniles will be placed on the respective guardians and the juveniles themselves will be tried under the Juvenile Justice Act.
- Automated Fitness Training for Vehicles: An automated process to test the fitness of motor vehicles by October 1, 2018, is also proposed to be introduced. The fitness quotient for vehicles include PUC (pollution under control) certification, speedometer calibration, brake adjustment, suspension testing and wheel alignment. This will help in keeping unsafe vehicles off the roads as well as reduce corruption in the transportation department.
- National Registry for Licenses and Registrations will help unify and streamline the process of issuing and documenting registrations and licenses issued.
- Introduction of Electronic Monitoring places the responsibility on the government to ensure proper electronic surveillance on national and state highways and urban roads.
We the People Are also Responsible
As the citizens of a nation well on its way towards development, we also have a slice of responsibility that we need to fulfil towards road safety. Blaming the Government and bad roads has become the order of the day. However, we fail to realise that due to lack of education about traffic rules and regulations, blatant breaking of rules like not wearing helmets or seat belts, we are also contributing towards road accidents. It is time to join hands with the government and pitch in towards road safety in the following ways:
- We must undergo the whole rigmarole of acquiring a license. Give the proper written and driven test to obtain a license. The test just ensures that we are capable of driving on the streets in India.
- We must make it a point to use helmets and seat belts. Many deaths in road accidents could have been avoided if the driver had followed this one simple rule.
- We, as parents, must ensure that our children who are underage do not drive. The reason is simple. The human body takes its own time to develop, and the hand and eye coordination when underage is not perfect, which results in accidents. Moreover, the young, by virtue of age are rash in driving and get a thrill from speed which is not conducive to safety.
- As pedestrians we absolutely must follow the traffic rules. Wait for the signal to cross the street, cross only on the Zebra Crossing, use the sidewalk for walking and last but not the least, if on the highway, walk only where pedestrians are allowed. The rules are simple, we just need to follow them.
- Traffic signs speak a silent language. We need to educate ourselves about the different signs which will help us in being safe. More information about the different traffic signs and rules is available at Traffic Signs and Road Safety
- We should be conscientious about the rules, and not try to bribe our way out of trouble.
Let’s pledge that 2017 will be the year when India sees the least number of road accidents. Let’s help the government in our own capacity towards lesser road accidents. Stay Safe!