Finally, road safety action plan takes shape

Centre to introduce Bill to arrest alarming increase in accidents

According to the action plan, the fund will be exclusively utilised for  issues related to road safety like improving drivers’ licensing and their training system, road markings and signage, road safety audit and accident recording system. With India attaining the dubious distinction in the world having the highest number of road accidents, the ministry has also made specific allocation for training those involved in road designing and engineering task, the traffic police and road transport department officials, a senior official in the ministry told Deccan Herald.

The ministry documents show that it had utilised only 28.34 per cent of its allocated funds for road safety in the 2009-10 fiscal which is the worst in the last one decade. During this period, though the ministry was allocated Rs 79 crore, only Rs 22.39 crore was spent.

Interestingly, the highest amount was allocated for road safety in 2009-10 with a view to reducing accidents.

The fund was supposed to be used mainly for a number of road-safety related schemes like buying ambulances to be positioned on national highways, allocation to NGOs to create awareness among villagers living alongside busy highways, setting up of drivers’ training schools and model inspection and certification centres for commercial vehicles.
But lack of co-ordination among officials of different sections in the ministry and poor planning led to the lapsing of the fund, said the official.
Though for the past one decade the utilisation of road safety funds has hovered around 50-60 per cent, in 2009-10 the utilisation was the worst, said the official.

Latest figures
Latest statistics in the ministry say that in 2008, 4.85 lakh road accidents occurred across the country in which 1.2 lakh people died and 5.2 lakh were injuried.
India overtook China in road fatalities in 2006 and since then the number has been increasing year after year. In marked contrast, the number of road deaths recorded in China during 2008 was 73,500 though the country had witnessed an auto boom, the official pointed out.

To arrest the alarming trend of rising road accidents, the Centre proposes to introduce a National Road Safety and Traffic Management Bill in the current monsoon session.
As per the Bill, the one per cent of the cess on diesel and petrol collected by the government would go into funds at the Central and state levels to be spent by the road safety board. The Board will take up a host of road safety measures – from educating road users to ensuring that road design is user-friendly.
DH News Service

The blueprint
* Fund will be utilised exclusively for issues like improving drivers’ licensing and their training, road markings and signage, road safety audit and accident recording system.
* Specific allocation for training those involved in road design and engineering, traffic policing and transport officials
* In its worst showing in a decade, the ministry utilised only 28.34 per cent of its allocated funds for road safety in 2009-10
* Allocated fund was supposed to be used for buying ambulances for national highways, creating awareness on road safety among villagers, drivers’ training schools etc
* Poor planning and lack of co-ordination among officials of different sections in the ministry led to lapsing of fund

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