Tuesday , 17 September 2019

How Safe are we on Our Roads?

Technology never fails us. However, we are lacking in proper infrastructure. It is a sad situation that proper test equipment is not available in any laboratory, or with any enforcement agency or equipment provider, nor is any facility available to train the users. Training and developing the proper infrastructure to provide after sales service, calibration, alignment and training require investment which most of the agencies are not willing to make. Also, majority of the road users are indisciplined. We are also indisciplined in dealing with traffic violators, imparting education and providing latest technology.

The Intelligent Transportation Systems are necessary and should be made best use of. The technology should be used as per the requirement of the specific areas. Various gadgets are available in the international market for road safety and security like Red Light and Speed Enforcement System, Drunk & Driving Enforcement System, Variable Message Signs, GPRS / GPS based Vehicle Tracking System, Disaster Management System, Speed Measuring Guns for Day / Night operation, etc.

A new subject on Road Safety should be added in school syllabus from class VI onwards and made mandatory in High School. The subject should be given as a choice in vocational courses, and must be a compulsory subject at the graduation level. Only when the students clear their degree course along with clearing the subject of Road Safety should they be given the licence to drive.

The enforcement agencies want the solution providers to provide the latest technological equipment and systems which shall be useful for the environmental conditions of Indian roads. There should also be proper arrangement of after sales services for the required maintenance of the products & systems.

There should be a proper department at the Road and Transport / Traffic Police division that must be entrusted with the task of providing detailed practical specifications of the required equipment. The decision makers should be given a chance to visit international exhibitions, seminars and conferences to enrich their knowledge about the latest technology. This will help them to use the technology best suited to Indian road conditions.

Better co-operation among all the agencies is very much required to enable them to decide on and implement the best solution for the traffic enforcement requirements.

We need to educate the road users towards changing their mindset for better use of the roads, implementing the technologies, enforcing the rules on the violators strongly and developing the infrastructure required for implementing the latest technology.

While the number of vehicles and the population of road users are increasing sharply, not many alternatives are available to the users. Most of the roads cannot be widened further. Metro Rail / Mono Rail type of solution should be implemented to reduce traffic jams, decrease travel time and reduce accidents and deaths on road.

We should observe at least a basic level of self discipline: Vinay Jain, Managing Director, Mass Trans Systems (P) Ltd

Our rules and laws are more than enough to achieve the desired road safety. They are not inadequate at all. But we lack in enforcement miserably. The other important reasons for our dismal road safety are number of vehicles on roads at a time, lack or absence of good public transport, ever increasing population, lack of self discipline among the drivers and pedestrians, and least respect for road safety among commuters and enforcement agencies among many others.

For technology to work, we should observe at least a basic level of self discipline. For e.g., if we use Automatic Number Plate Recognition system, the number plates must be standardized which they are, but then, we do not follow the standards and enforcement agencies do nothing about it. Secondly, for traffic management (be it the highway or an urban road), the cameras can work efficiently only if we follow lane discipline. There are plenty of such examples which point to our faults rather than those of the technology. This means that we are an indisciplined lot. If there is no traffic cop standing at the traffic signal, we do not even bother to look at the signal (in many big cities too).

There are many technologies and solutions that we can avail for better safety like pedestrian signals and proper enforcement, safe places for crossing the roads / highways, use of Incident detection cameras, efficient emergency vehicles which can reach the spot of incident in minimum time, trained patrolling staff and efficient communication system. The list is endless.

What is needed is that the solution providers should do their work honestly and efficiently. First of all they should know their duties. The decision makers, on the other hand, must ensure that the policies are framed keeping Indian road conditions in mind. The experts should be consulted and their suggestions should be given due importance while framing the policies. There should be no place for politics in such important matters. It is also essential that all related agencies have better coordination.

The Ministry does not have expertise and capacity to deliver: Amandeep Singh,National Sales Manager, Avery Dennison India Pvt Ltd

Massive road construction activity has been going on in India for over ten years but little organised research has been carried out to develop a technology based on proven result. Same errors and omissions are being made by all road designers and builders for lack of well established specifications. Proper technology must be used for building good quality roads because poorly constructed roads get damaged in no time under heavy traffic during the monsoon.

Specifications of other countries are not always valid for Indian climate and traffic. A lot of investment towards research in the road construction area is necessary to develop and design specifications suitable for the Indian environment and traffic since failure of roads leading to huge wastage of capital, cost escalation, litigation and delay causes suffering to all, including the road users.

The federalism of India has been damaging the cause of road safety, as there is no uniform adoption of the traffic rules across all states. The central government has no enforcement authority ? it depends on the states to specify the details of the particular traffic regulation through their own legislations. For example, as per CMVR (Central Motor Vehicle Rule), it has been mandatory for all riders to wear helmet since 1988, install seat belts in cars since 1994 and all front seat occupants to use seat belts. However, a large number of states still do not enforce these laws.

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