The October 2015 World Health Organisation report reveals that each year, road traffic crashes kill more than 1.2 million people around the world and injure up to 50 million. According to National Crime Records Bureau, a total of 4, 50,898 accidents led to 1, 41,526 deaths and 4, 77,731 injuries across India in 2014.
Many of these casualties are preventable; there are tested ways to improve road safety but a lot of them are not widely known. It is challenging to find all available counter-measures, sort through them and determine which are the most relevant ones for a particular area. ITS have been put to optimum use in many countries, including those of Asia, but somehow India has not been able to keep the pace.
Addressing the Global Conference on Traffic Safety in Brasilia (November 2015), Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport and Highways, said that India fully endorsed the ‘Safe System Approach’ being advocated by the United Nations and has been making concerted efforts to achieve the goals set under the UN Decade of Action to reduce accidents by 50 per cent till 2020.
Where do we stand vis-a-vis safety on our roads? Preeti Swaminathan finds out what the Indian traffic experts have to say on general awareness on road safety products and the challenges of implementation & integration.
Road safety has become a prime focus in the last few years. There are special measures and steps being taken to focus on road safety and these have gained prominence especially under the current government. Now, there are safety consultants for road projects. But the gap in information about the road safety products needs to be filled.
We see acceptability of Type XI sheeting in the highway sector for new projects, however, the old stalled projects which had lately picked up are still using the old technology. There should be a clause of upgrading specifications of road safety products for old projects too. Cascading down to local departments, we see resistance to upgrade technology. The government departments need to have training on the technologies available in the Industry.
The enforcement authority and system providers should jointly make/create better awareness on right road safety products. The need of the hour is a strong collaboration between the enforcement authorities and organizations. A push has to come from the top to actually realize the effectiveness of marketing our technology to the end-users at every level and in every region.
Authorities like NHAI should provide platforms for new products. There is a definite need for exhibitions like TrafficInfratech Expo to showcase products to create impact on the people.
The first challenge in implementing safety is getting the real time data, and then following its integration into the systems. But the biggest challenge is that safety products industry and ITS works very differently. The difference is in their modus operandi.
The sign making process or application of road furniture in India is a manual process and is a source of income for a lot of workers who work on wages. So, collaboration of this manual process with ITS which completely works on technology is what we foresee as the biggest challenge.