By Dr S V N Vijayendra
Mysuru, June 2:- In India, the number of road traffic crashes (RTC), road traffic injuries (RTI) and road accident deaths (RAD) have not seen a significant downward trend for several years. On average, it is leaving more than 1.5 lakh deaths and 7-6 lakh people injured every year, with a majority in the age group of 15-45 years.
Increase in the population (of both people and vehicles) on the roads, poor infrastructure and negligence to safety guidelines are leading to road accidents. Our country is far behind in reaching the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 3.6 of reducing RAD by 50% by 2020.
In our country, road users behaviour (careless and arrogant attitude of the riders or drivers), the lethargy of administrators, unable to implement enforcement rules to the maximum extent possible (due to the interference of country’s political system), haphazard parking even on busy city roads and highways and negligence of the people about road safety, wrong-way driving, not following one-way rule, over speeding, drunk driving, are some of the main reasons for increasing RTCs and RTIs, most of which are preventable.
People are not in a mood to hear kind words about road safety and immediately retaliate if anyone says that they have violated the traffic rule(s). Many violators are not worried about the safety of themselves, their family members or other road users.
Human factors are implicated in 96% of road accidents in the world (the World Health Organisation report (2015): Practical steps in enhancing road safety lessons from the road safety in 10 countries), attempts to change the behaviour of the road users towards road safety can play a significant role in reducing RTCs and RTIs in our country.
In this direction, bringing the victims and/or the family members of victims of road accidents to a platform and arranging road safety awareness programmes through them to make people understand the consequences of not following the road safety rules and making people understand about how the families or dependents suffer psychologically and financially due to road accidents are needed. Such type of programme may be more effective in motivating people towards adopting road safety rules.
Demerit point-based system
In addition to this, the introduction of a demerit point-based system, as a penalty for violation of traffic rules, leading to the cancellation of driving licence, besides penalty, can bring in some order in road traffic and may decrease RTCs. Making public the names of the violators and type of violations, especially in case of signal jumping, drunk driving, one-way violation and rash driving may bring in some discipline in violators.
Reducing speed limits, minimising the number of straight crossings at crossroads by introducing U-turns, wherever possible to eliminate signal jumping, making compulsory use of helmets, seat belts and child restraints, prohibiting the use of mobiles and drunk driving, increasing visibility on the road by way of lighting the roads can help reduce road accidents. Encouraging the use of reflectors by cyclists and two-wheeler riders, improving road conditions, and building a minimum of 3-star rated roads with all markings on the roads (with reflectors indicating the road margins and medians) and monitoring it is essential to reduce road accidents. Installing user-friendly, cost-effective, anti-collision warning systems in automobiles to alert the driver to take immediate action to avert an accident (doi:10.1109/ECACE.2017.7913024 &doi/10.1063/1.5039015), installing emergency braking assistant, the distance warning assistant and adopting 5 E’s (Education, Engineering (both of roads and vehicles), Enforcement, Emergency care and Effective implementation all these four) can help reduce RTCs and RTIs in our country.
People (both pedestrians and vehicle users) should start behaving in a more civilised manner on the roads to reduce road accidents and RADs and RTIs. Besides this, better road management and vehicle safety measures are required. Only then can we meet the UN SDG targets at least by 2030.
(The writer is a regular contributor to City Today and Traffic Warden and member, City Traffic Advisory Committee, Mysuru)