Daily Editorial Analysis for 01st July 2022

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Road Safety in India

GS Paper 2: Governance
Important for
Prelims exam level: Not much
Mains exam Level: Road safety in India
The story so far: In spite of several years of policymaking to improve road safety, India remains among the worst performing countries in this area

Eye-opening data

• With a toll of 1, 47,913 lives lost to road traffic accidents in 2017 as per Ministry of Road Transport and Highways statistics.
• The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) figure for the same year is 1,50,093 road accident deaths.
• Further, India’s data on road crash mortality are seen as an undercount, and the Global Burden of Disease report for 2017 estimates, based on verbal autopsy sources, that there were 2,18,876 deaths.
Hurdle in achieving SDG
• The persistently high annual death toll brings into question the country’s ability to meet Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.6, which aims to halve the fatalities and injuries from road traffic accidents by 2030.
What are the new findings on road safety?
• A new analytical series on road safety worldwide, published by The Lancet, proposes that India and other countries could cut accident-related deaths by 25 to 40% if the preventive interventions produce good outcomes when

applied to well known risk factors —

o high speed,
o driving under the influence of alcohol,
o not using proper helmets,
o not wearing seat­belts
o Not using child restraints.

Steps taken by India

• India amended its law on motor vehicles in 2019, but its implementation by State governments is not uniform or complete.
• A National Road Safety Board was constituted under the Motor Vehicles Act, with advisory powers to reform safety.

Issues with the implementation

• The focus of State governments, however, remains conventional, with an emphasis on user behaviour (drivers and other road users), education and uneven enforcement.
• Low emphasis is placed on structural change such as raising engineering standards for roads, signages, signals, training for scientific accident investigation, raising policing skills and fixing responsibility on government departments for design, creation and maintenance of road infrastructure.
Intervention by the Supreme Court
• Major interventions in India, first suggested by the Sundar Committee (2007) and ordered by the Supreme Court in Rajasekaran vs Union of India
• But these have not made a dent in the problem.
Key findings of Sundar Committee
• The Sundar Committee pointed out that India lacked a technically competent investigation arm that could determine the cause of accidents.
• There is little clarity on whether the States have formed such units to aid traffic investigation, or whether the insurance industry has pressed for these to accurately determine fault.
• In the absence of scientific investigation, perceptions usually guide the fixing of liability.
Solutions provided by the Lancet
• The Lancet calculated that 17% of road traffic injury-related deaths could be avoided if trauma care facilities improved.
• This is significant as several accidents take place in rural areas on highways, and victims are taken to poorly-equipped district hospitals or medical college hospitals.
• While positive user behaviour — slower travel, wearing of helmets, seat belts and so on — could save thousands of lives.
• In the short term, slowing down traffic, particularly near habitations, segregating slower vehicles, enforcing seat belt and helmet use and cracking down on drunken drivers could produce measurable gains.

Imbibing road safety: Way forward

• Road safety education
• Better road design, maintenance and warning signage
• Crackdown on driving under influence of alcohol and drugs
• Strict enforcement of traffic rules
• Encouraging better road behaviour
• Ensuring road worthiness of a vehicle
• Better first aid and paramedic care

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