[Answered] The record-setting expansion of the road network is a positive development. But the ecosystem that facilitates safe travel has lagged far behind. Comment.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.

Body: Explain some issues with road safety. Also write some measures.

Conclusion: Write a way forward.

According to the National Crimes Records Bureau (NCRB) data, over 1.55 lakh lives were lost in road crashes across India in 2021 or 18 deaths every single hour. States of Tamil Nadu (57,000), Madhya Pradesh (49,500), Uttar Pradesh (36,500), Kerala (33,000) and Maharashtra (30,000) reported high number of accidents.

Issues with road safety:

  • Human Factors: According to the NCRB report, most of the accidents and fatalities are attributable to human factors. These include over-speeding, careless driving, neglecting safety measures like not wearing helmets or seat belts etc.
  • Road Design: Many roads have multiple black spotsg., sharp corners in a straight road, a hidden junction on the fast road, etc. There are no separate lanes for 2-wheelers or very heavy vehicles. Urban areas lack separate lanes for pedestrians.
  • There is administrative and political apathytoward road safety. Road users are lacking the understanding of the basic traffic rules and road signage.
  • There is easier accessto driving licences without a meaningful ground scrutiny of skills.
  • At the macro level, various institutions of road safety are engaged inroutine paperwork and lack accountability.

Measures for safer travel:

  • There is a need to enhance vehicle safety features in India. e.g., The European Union’sGeneral Safety Regulation requires new vehicles to incorporate advanced emergency braking technology that launches automatically when a collision is imminent and intelligent speed assistance to reduce speed.
  • The Government can implement the important recommendations of the KS Radhakrishnan panel on Road Safety- State Governments to perform a compulsory Audit on road safetyto ensure adequate safety standards in the design, construction, and maintenance of roads; Creating awareness among people on road safety rules, insurance policies, etc.;
  • There is a need for regular and professional enforcement of rulesSwift and innovative solutionsby the administration could help in evolving a healthy safe-road culture.
  • Parts of major roads and highways should be set up as “ideal” road safety zones. These zones will promote locally suitable, comprehensive safe road practices.
  • There is a need to review the design of rural and urban roadsand bring them into consonance with international best practices. E.g. separate lanes for 2-wheelers and heavy vehicles.

From policing to courts to transport department to public works to healthcare, a ‘whole of government’ approach can make citizens safer. Such improvements will represent the next generation of governance reforms that India must target.

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