The Rare Road Safety in India
With suicidal regard to an abysmal record on road safety,
India sleeps over the urgency...
More than 1.2 million people die in
road accidents world over while 50 million are injured every year.
Alarming? But more alarming is the fact that the tally is on the
rise as motorized transport becomes increasingly the choice of millions
especially in the third world. The figures are projected to rise
by as much as 65% by 2020.
There has been 170-fold increase in the number of motor vehicles (from 300,000) on Indian roads in the past 50 years whereas the road network has expanded only nine folds. Though the latter situation heads for marked improvement with ambitious expressways and other road networks now making significant strides, measures taken to ensure road safety for commuters in India have been far from the minimum by any standard.
Take the case of mandatory helmets for the two-wheeler motorists. While it took years for the Delhi government to have the rule implemented in the capital state, for millions of motorists in non-metro India the safety measure is a distant cry. Even the minimalist traffic rules are not observed and implemented thanks to the lax traffic police force of the country.
With about a million deaths and an almost equal number of injured that speak volumes on the road safety situation in the country, safety measures for the car users like airbags, crash sensors and crumple zones provided by the top brand car manufacturers are in place elsewhere but not in India. Reason being - insensitive and unmotivated government and law enforcement agencies.
Some results of such commuter combat
are predictable. Reckless driving-sometimes in the form of so-called
road rage-is often spurred by traffic frustrations. So cool-headed
commuting is essential to safeguard precious lives on the road.
For instance, Automotive Research Association of India, an organization responsible for testing and research in the automobile industry although being affiliated to the
Government of India has been set up by the industry itself. Hence, it has no teeth to enforce any safety regulations.
The magnificent flyovers built and more coming up in the capital state of India have one unforgivable shortcoming - the pedestrian (read, major) interest has been thrown to the winds; a pedestrian wishing to cross over to the other side of a flyover intersection has to do some donkey-walking, and his safety should be best left unsaid.
While the upcoming expressways like the most ambitious one, the golden quadrilateral project linking the metros of the country, are bandied as the life line of the country, the life line of the road users is governed by chance unless the rule of law and sound safety regulations are in place.