Robust and reliable data is essential for road safety and to guide all policies, programmes and interventions. In the era of evidencebased systems, data plays a pivotal role to evaluate the need and effectiveness of solutions. TrafficInfraTech speaks to few experts to understand how good quality data is important to road safety and the challenges in translating available data into implementable solutions.
In a recent data released by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) reveals that, India had lost 1,47,913 people to road crashes in 2017, of which 48,764 were on two-wheelers, 26,869 were car crash victims, 20,457 were pedestrians deaths, and 3,559 were cyclists. This roughly amounts to an average of over 400 deaths every day on Indian roads.
Over the past five years, the government has taken several measures to prevent crashes and fatalities from road accidents. These include a National Road Safety Policy, which outlines various policy measures such as promoting awareness, establishing road safety information database, encouraging safer road infrastructure & applying intelligent transport systems, and enforcement of safety laws. The government has also constituted the National Road Safety Council as the apex body to take policy decisions in matters of road safety.
A new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates road traffic deaths continue to rise, with an annual 1.35 million fatalities. The WHO Global status report on road safety 2018 highlights that road traffic injuries are now the leading killer of children and young people aged 5-29 years.
“These deaths are an unacceptable price to pay for mobility”, said, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director- General, WHO. “There is no excuse for inaction. This is a problem with proven solutions. This call for governments and partners to take much greater action to implement these measures.”
Anil KumarTechnology-driven solutions such as big data, machine learning and simulations can identify unsafe intersections, mitigate risks and address the shortcomings of transport systems as well thereby, enabling an analysis of public transportation routes.
In India, as in most countries, traffic police is the only source of statistics for monitoring road traffic deaths at the population level. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court-appointed three-member road safety committee led by Justice KS Radhakrishnan praising Tamil Nadu’s efforts in reducing fatalities in road accidents. According to the NCRB, out of 1,47,913 accident deaths in 2017 across the country, 16,517 took place in Tamil Nadu. In other words, the state accounted for nearly 11% of all road fatalities in the country. In the following year, the number of deaths fell to 12,213. This is a drop of 24.39%.
A Arun, Additional Commissioner of Police —Traffic, Chennai, said, “The decrease is all thanks to the efforts of critical stakeholders, including: The police department, which seeks to enforce the rules. The health department ensure that systems are in place to deal with emergency trauma care and helping people access these critical services. The transport department which ensure quality in providing licences and fit vehicles. The highways department, which seeks to oversee the conditions on the road and transport department deciding on who obtains a vehicle and whether it receives a fitness certificate.
“In all these avenues, policy decisions were being taken based on rigorous data analytics. In addition to this, the reason why Tamil Nadu succeeded was that all stakeholder departments worked as an integrated entity, particularly at the field level.
“At the end of the day, you need to save lives. Every resource that can work towards saving lives should be available at the time and place when required. This involves deep understanding of the processes, improving them based on data and more importantly having people on ground who actually implement them,” said A Arun.