AROUND THE WORLD
Sweden is one the ideal example of a holistic approach to road safety. In 1997, Sweden adopted a ‘Vision Zero’ policy based on the idea that ‘no loss of life was acceptable’ and that rather than trying to alter human behaviour, the focus should be on designing a better system of roads and other infrastructure, vehicle technology and enforcement.
Today, the country has lowspeed limits, pedestrian zones, and segregated vehicular traffic. One of the most successful safety measures, according to authorities, is the ‘2+1’ roads. These are three-lane roads have two-lanes dedicated to vehicles moving in one direction and one for those heading in the other and these are altered every few kilometers. This prevents over-speeding and overtaking.
The authorities are also betting big on self-driving cars to bring down accident rates. In 2015, Sweden had a reported road accident death rate of 2.8 per 1,00,000. When the Vision Zero was launched, this figure was 7 per 1,00,000.
Apart from strictly enforcing speed limits and other road regulations (coupled with steep fines and punishments for offenders), Singapore deploys a lot of technology to keep drivers safe including ‘advanced warning lights’ that inform drivers about upcoming traffic lights and ‘Your Speed Signs’ that are live electronic signs which calculate and display the real-time speeds of vehicles.
Recently, Singapore has been making a push to improve pedestrian safety, particularly for children and the elderly. ‘Silver zones’ with lower speed limits, narrower lanes, and dividers between lanes to decrease the length to be walked at one stretch and allow senior citizens to rest in the middle of the crossing are being introduced in residential areas.
According to the government’s Annual Road Traffic Situation 2015 report, the number of casualties has been on a gradual, but steady, decline. In 2015, Singapore had 149 fatal accidents, significantly down from 1998’s 975.
With some of the safest roads in the world, one of the interesting things about Norway’s road safety norms is that, regardless of the time or the visibility, having your headlights on while driving is mandatory. This, supposedly decreases the risk of collision, as even on a bright sunny day, spotting a car with headlights on is easier.
According to its National Plan of Action for Road Traffic Safety 2014– 2017, Norway aims to bring down its figure of fatalities and severe injuries by half by 2024. In 2015, 117 were killed and 693 people were severely injured in road accidents. These figures have gone down by roughly more than 40 per cent in the last decade, being 224 deaths in 2005.
In general, rules are strict and all kinds of aggressive driving (such as risky overtaking) is regarded as an offense in the country. Additionally, overtaking is discouraged and is only permitted on long straight roads with plenty of visibility.