Safer roads for a greener, more sustainable environment

Source– The post is based on the article “Safer roads for a greener, more sustainable environment” published in The Hindu on 2nd December 2022.

Syllabus: GS3- Environment pollution

Relevance– Causes of environmental pollution

News– The article explains the linkages between road safety and clean environment.

How do road accidents lead to environmental pollution?

Most vehicles contain toxic metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium or hexavalent chromium, which are detrimental to the environment. Fuel and fluid leaks are seen at crash sites.

Severe road crashes lead to automobile wreckage. It becomes a part of unusable end-of-life vehicles. This gives rise to scrappage.

What are issues with vehicle scrappage in India?

India is estimated to have about 22.5 million end-of-life vehicles by 2025.

India’s National Automobile Scrappage Policy, launched in 2021, is still in its nascent stages.

There is absence of widespread, systematic facilities dedicated to their proper recycling. vehicles after road crashes as well as old end-of-life automobiles are left to rot by the wayside.  These end up at landfills or at informal recycling facilities where they are dismantled unscientifically. This leads to the leakage of hazardous constituents such as oils, coolants and glass wool.

How are road safety and environmental sustainability intertwined concepts?

In 2020 alone, speeding was responsible for 91,239 road crash fatalities. It comprises 69.3% of all road crash deaths registered.

Simulation exercises in Europe have demonstrated that cutting motorway speed limits even by 10 km/h can deliver 12% to 18% fuel savings for current technology passenger cars. It can lead to significant reduction in pollutant emissions, particularly Nitrogen Oxides and particulate matter, from diesel vehicles.

What is the Zero-Fatality Corridor solution for road safety by the SaveLIFE Foundation?

All road safety initiatives undertaken and recommended by the SaveLIFE Foundation are designed to be impactful and environment-friendly.

It was deployed on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway in 2016. It helped bring down road crash fatalities by 52%, as of 2020.

Initiatives included guarding natural hard structures such as trees using crash barriers to prevent direct collisions. It also includes  installing retro reflective signage on the trees to make them more visible to commuters.

Missing or inadequate signages are another leading cause of road crashes. It is a common standard practice to use asbestos for creating these signages.

Asbestos has an adverse impact on the environment. The ZFC programme opts only for long-lasting, high-quality, non-hazardous material for signage. Aluminium Composite Panels are employed for signages. It is free of toxic gas or liquids during the production process. It is also recyclable separately.

What is the way forward?

Roads and the environment are inseparable spaces. They are not just our shared resources but also our joint responsibility. T

herefore, safer roads and a sustainable environment can be ensured only through the joint efforts of road-owning agencies, enforcement officials and the public.

Print Friendly and PDF