Road safety norms can help save lives

Road safety norms can help save lives

Accidents killed 1,532 people last year

Though there has been a decline in road deaths in the national capital over the past couple of years, Delhi still has the highest road fatalities in the country. In all, 1,496 accidents took place in Delhi in 2015, in which 1,532 people had lost their lives.

Such fatalities can be prevented if road safety measures are put in place, says Piyush Tewari, founder and CEO of SaveLIFE Foundation, an NGO committed to improving road safety and emergency medical care.

The city government-run emergency ambulances, Centralised Accident and Trauma Services (CATS), are inadequate to cater to the rising population in Delhi, added Tewari, on the eve of Road Safety Week, January 11 to 17.

A foolproof road engineering guidelines with strict enforcement of the traffic rules can reduce the incidents of roads accidents in Delhi and in turn help in reducing the number of fatalities, he said.

“Three major National Highways pass through Delhi. The National Highways contribute to 30 per cent of all the deaths in the country. National Highways have been designed without giving a proper thought about the safety of pedestrians and two wheelers. This is where road engineering comes into picture,” said Tewari, who lost his cousin in a road accident in 2007.

“We don’t follow lane driving approach which takes into account the possibility of human error and helps in reducing road accidents.”

Also, there is no law making it mandatory for people to take driving lessons before getting their licences, he added.

Even the licencing system is incompetent as there are no strict driving tests before issuing licences.
“Vehicle in the hands of untrained drivers are weapons on the roads. Fatalities are bound to happen,” he said.

According to the NGO, the most dangerous time period on road was between 3 pm and 6 pm contributing to 17.26 per cent of all road accidents in the country. The least dangerous was midnight to 3 am.

The city government’s ongoing odd-even campaign has been able to check air pollution and address the issue of congestion on Delhi roads.

The car rationing scheme has brought the concept of carpooling into public consciousness.
“A carpool policy that incentives carpooling and creates an enabling environment for shared cars to thrive will help inculcate better driving etiquettes among people,” said Tewari.

“The city government has to create carpooling policy which will require a certain kind of infrastructure like designated lanes for shared cars. There is a high vehicle occupancy rate in foreign countries with more than two passengers in a car, and such vehicles get a preferential lane that can’t be occupied by other vehicles.”

Delhi had successfully introduced such dedicated lane driving during the CommonWealth Games. Delhi has 1.1 vehicle occupancy on an average, 1.1 person per vehicle.

Another incentive to encourage people to carpool is by giving them free parking or discounted rates, he added.

“It has been observed in countries like Germany, Belgium and the UK that the moment the carpooling policy was introduced people’s behaviour started changing. They became more responsible for other road users as well as began following traffic rules diligently.”

“The carpooling policy not only reduces congestion on roads, but also changes driving behaviour and gives more space to heavy vehicles in turn giving a safe passage to vulnerable road users like pedestrians, cyclists and two-wheelers,” he said.

Currently, there are nearly 89 lakh registered vehicles in the national capital, and over one lakh vehicles from neighbouring states ply on Delhi roads.