Roads Australia (RA) is a non-profit, non-political industry association. Its members are drawn from all corners of the Australian road sector. This is an unusual association because it includes both the government and commercial representatives. RA is also a very active member of IRF. Two RA companies from Australia particularly have a long history of association. The Australian Road Research Board has been working in India for the last 15 years on a whole range of improvements to Indian Highways particularly with a view of trying to reduce accidents involving pedestrians which is a catastrophic problem on Indian roads. The other company is Ingal Civil Products that produces road barriers.
Road safety in India
Road Safety is a catastrophic problem in India. The first thing to improve here is to change the driver behaviour and get better driver discipline for motorists and bikers because pedestrians and people walking on the road get killed very easily. Second is to increase pedestrian awareness because people take unnecessary risks.
We need to make a whole lot of changes to make this possible – that means not mixing up road users. One of the most difficult things is the absence of pavements and making the pedestrians stay on the pavement and not on the road.
Small and low-cost improvements like realigning dangerous curves, installing barriers, and providing road marking can considerably reduce accidents on Indian roads.
The other areas Roads Australia looks at
A good example is cost estimation for construction, a really important area. One of RA’s companies, MI Engineers, is an excellent example. Very often, projects are unable to be completed to specification because of shortage of funds. This often happens because the cost estimating mechanism used has been inaccurate. Wrong estimates significantly affect the material and system to be used. MI Engineers have a simple do-it-yourself product that can assist designers with much better construction estimates.
Other areas include ITS and Tolling. Australian companies, of course, are world leaders in tolling. CityLink in Melbourne was the first free flow toll road in the world. We have also had some good and bad experiences with tolling. Good because the technology that we developed is the best in the world but unfortunate because we came to realise that if traffic estimates are inaccurate toll roads will not meet expectations.
So toll roads are not always a silver bullet. They are suitable for high volume applications where you can seriously believe the traffic estimates. There has been great difficulty even in Australia in making reliable traffic estimates.
Coming back to road safety, road barriers are critically important because they protect everybody. Australia has an outstanding technology in that area and we have some highly reputable companies. There is a huge variety of products that these Australian companies can take up in India.