With its size, population, diversity, urbanization and motorization, road safety is set to be one of India’s biggest emerging challenges. Maruti Suzuki runs a large nationwide road safety programme that focuses on providing scientific driving training and generating awareness amongst masses on safe driving.
As per the MoRTH report, total of 4, 97,686 road accidents were reported in India in 2011. Of these, about 24.4% were fatal accidents. The number of persons killed in road accidents were 1, 42,485, i.e. an average of one fatality per 3.5 accidents. The severity of road accidents, measured in terms of persons killed per 100 accidents, has also increased from 20.8 in 2002 to 28.6 in 2011.
The MoRTH study also revealed that drivers’ faults accounted for 77.5% of the total accidents. It is the single largest factor responsible for accidents, fatalities and injuries. This makes it vital to train people to drive correctly and safely.
Maruti Suzuki has developed two major models for imparting driving skills to existing and new drivers:
• Institutes of Driving and Traffic Research (IDTRs): This initiative was started in 2000. The large-scale driving training institutes are set up on areas as large as 10 acres. Established in partnership with the Government, the institutes offer training for passenger car and commercial vehicle drivers. Scientifically designed driving tracks and simulators are used for practical training. Health check-ups and soft skills training is also offered for commercial vehicle drivers. Trained and certified instructors undertake theory and practical sessions. The Company has set up six IDTRs so far.
• Maruti Driving Schools (MDSs): This initiative was started in 2004. A smaller format of training schools, these have been set up in partnership with dealers. MDS offers training for driving passenger vehicles only. The training curriculum at the MDS is the same as that at the IDTRs, except that the practical driving training is imparted on actual road instead of test tracks. About 50% of MDS trainees are women. In 2013-14, 44 new MDS were added taking the total number of MDS to 321. The Company has established Road Safety Knowledge Centres (RSKC) in partnership with Haryana Traffic Police to promote road safety in cities. The RSKCs are managed by IDTR. Presently there are seven RSKCs functional in Haryana. Over 1.5 lakh traffic violators and learner license applicants were given training on road safety and traffic rules in 2013-14.
Train the Trainer Programme: The key objective of the programme is to develop high quality, dedicated road safety professionals for its driving schools and standardise training delivery across India as per Maruti Suzuki standards. Future trainers are trained to achieve proficiency in training, communication skills and key instructional abilities.
Minority Communities: In 2013-14, the Company signed an MoU with National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NSFDC) to train economically weak youths belonging to minority communities. Nearly 3300 youths enrolled for training.
Road Safety Tips:
• Don’t drink and drive
• Always wear a seat belt
• Respect traffic rules
• Overtake with care
• Keep safe distance
• Observe the speed limit
• Adjust speed according to the road & weather conditions
Road Safety for Truck Drivers: In 2013-14, over 40,000 drivers transporting Maruti Suzuki vehicles attended driving training sessions at Driver Education Centres located within the factory premises in Manesar and Gurgaon. Besides, 7050 drivers were trained at IDTR.
In March 2014, a week long safety campaign “Jagriti” for drivers was also conducted. More than 2500 drivers participated in this event. The programme covered health and eye check-ups and HIV/AIDS awareness and testing camps, multiple media like games, quizzes and nukkadnataks (plays) etc. The company rewards drivers who practise safe driving and transport vehicles on time without damages and drivers who have an excellent track record of damage free and timely vehicles delivery
Corporate Training: Maruti Suzuki, through its network of over 320 Maruti Driving Schools organizes on-site Road Safety training capsules for employees of different corporate like Cairn India, Reliance, Vodafone, Mahindra Satyam, Eli Lilly and Indian Oil. The Company has trained around 40,000 people from different organisations in the last three years. The idea was to customise skills like defensive riding or driving on road – how to protect yourself from collisions and injuries – as most of sales persons are on road for at least six hours everyday.
Maruti Suzuki’s efforts in road safety have focused on driving training and awareness generation among masses. While the efforts have yielded results, considering the scale and need for road safety in India, they are a drop in the ocean. The scope in the field is immense and the best results will be achieved when a collaborative approach between individuals and organisation is taken.