Be Responsible On The Road | An NSDF Initiative

Source: Freepik

Did you know the road accidents in India has caused 1.2 Million deaths and 5.5 Million Serious Injuries in the last decade? This statistic simply amounts up to an average death of at least one every 4 minutes. As vehicle sales rose, emerging countries like India has seen a dip in road deaths but in India, it has shot up by half in the last decade. Half of these deaths are among road users who are vulnerable like motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. Isn't this rate alarming? Besides blaming the government, as an individual what have we done to reduce this rate? 

It was after the launch of the new road safety & transport bill in 2014, the traffic offenders became little serious about the road safety in India. Besides cancellation of driving licenses for negligent and rash driving, the bill also proposed a hefty fine of upto Rs. 5 Lakhs on the vehicles with faulty manufacturing designs. 

Source: Freepik
My approach to improve the road safety in India would start with children, the future citizens of this country. There's a reason why I would like to start from children. It's not like people aged 15-50 are not educated about road safety in our country. Every one is extremely aware of how to be responsible on the road. However, most of us are just negligible to follow the rules. We aren't going to rule the world, if we stop at a road signal for 2 minutes right? Why is that rush to cross the signal before it turns green? Why is the rush to drive your vehicle over 80 Kmph in city limits, are we going to win a race or something? It's because of this extreme negligence among the grown-ups, which is not gonna change no matter what the consequences would be, I would like to take this approach to children to start with. 
Source: Freepik
This education need not be complex. It can be as simple as an art exhibition, where children display their learning on road safety or a spot quiz contest where children engage actively on answering questions about road safety in our country. Road safety can also be taught in phases like Walking, Crossing, Cycling and Riding, just like how they grow up phase by phase. While walking, always use foot path, don't play on road,  wear bright clothes at night etc. This can be taught with experiential learning style (Where they role play) rather than just teaching them through text books and black boards. 

We also must make sure that every kid carry a first-aid kit always and also knows how to use it during emergencies. This exercise can be vital. The education shouldn't just educate the children but also their parents with the help of children. Now matter how negligent someone is, there's always a chance for them to listen to their kids and change. I've known of many friends who quit smoking after their kids told them to, as it's not just harmful to them but the kids as well. Same is the approach to be followed, when the kids are being educated about road safety. 

Source: Freepik
The kids can also be given fluorescent colored bags with reflector strips, which glows bright under dull or no light conditions. 

Apart from this, I would like to suggest few innovative techniques which will definitely improve the road safety in India, in my humble opinion. 

Smarter Traffic Technology:

We have seen an amazing rise in Smartphone ownership in our country. It's forcing all the organizations to embrace the mobile culture. Off late we've also seen the rise of intelligent traffic management mobile applications like Traffline, Traffic Tutor etc. Adding to that, we also have to embrace smart traffic management systems like SURTRAC (Scalable Urban Traffic Control), an initiative by Carnegie Mellon University aimed at reducing vehicle emissions by 21% and travel time by 25%. It requires an investment of deploying city and town wide CCTV cameras in all the public places. This system will reduce the unnecessary waiting time at green signals, by smartly managing the traffic. Now the people need not hurry before the road signal turns green, as the light will automatically turn green if there are no automobiles or pedestrians. The CCTV cameras installed will also help prevent thousands of traffic violations in the city, by fining the violators appropriately. The system also detects emissions, thereby reducing the air pollution. This system if implemented in our country, will definitely be worth the investment and will bring down the fatality rate by almost half in no time. 

Better Road Designs: 

I need tell anything about the road conditions in our country. Even in a developed city like Bangalore, two of three roads I travel are faulty to the maximum causing serious traffic, thereby increasing the travel time and accidents especially in the night. Take a look at this smart glow-in-the-dark highway system in Netherlands.  

Source: CNET
A strip of highway is marked with road paint mixed with uniquely developed photoluminescent powder, which gets charged with sunlight during the day and glows bright in the night, when the light is hit on it. The roads must also be designed to utilize the solar energy and convert them into light which can used during night thus saving power costs which worry the governments. 

Changing behaviors of Drivers: 

After all, it's not just the automobile which causes these road accidents but a human being in the name of driver behind it. Barring few unfortunate circumstances where the automobile fail, it's mostly the driver who is responsible for accidents on road. While the CCTV can help monitor this situation to an extent, we also see the rise of display of complaint numbers on the back side of cars in case of rash or negligent driving. The traffic authorities must also possess a toll free number (Just like 911) to address traffic violations/complaints 24X7. Though we have this system in place, it's not operational 95% of the time. I've personally dialed 100, like more than 25 times in my life and not even once, the response was satisfactory. I don't see the point of '100' if it's not efficient in solving problems. 

Technology enabled vehicles - My Dream Solution: 

Source: Freepik
This would be a dream come true, if enabled in India. All the vehicles to be equipped with GPS and centrally controlled through a intelligent traffic management network. This system can limit the speed of vehicles under 40 in city limits or maintain a speed of 80-120 in highways (Depending upon the highways which is again controlled through CCTVs). Fined on spot digitally in case of traffic violations. A warning can be given to the drivers if they don't wear a seat belt or if they try to violate the rules and regulations set by the system. This system can be designed to detect wireless signals inside the car, to make sure the driver is not using his mobile phone while driving, thus prevent plenty of accidents from happening because of mobile phones. A 24X7 team must be deployed by the government to make the system function at its best seamlessly. The system can also be enabled to easily track the vehicles in case of emergencies. 

We must also thank players like Nissan, who's coming forward with an initiative like NSDF (Nissan Safety Driving Forum) aimed at encouraging safety driving habits. This initiative initially covered Mumbai, Chennai, New Delhi and now has expanded several other cities in India approximately reaching 2 Lakh Citizens. The initiative has witnessed an impressive 126% increase in individuals wearing seat belts. 

Know more about the initiative here -



Rohan C said...

Great article Deepan!

Chandrika said...

I wish these things are implemented in India by 2020. I have faith in our prime minister.

Sanjana Kn said...

Good suggestions to improve road safety in India. Kudos to the Nissan initiative.

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