Safe Systems approach can help in reducing fatalities on Indian roads and inculcate a culture of road safety

Australia’s success in driving down the road toll, and road trauma, more generally has been the result of a carefully crafted approach in building capacity and institutional strengthening amongst the various road safety partners.

As part of an ongoing "integrated road safety initiative"  to offer Australian capability and expertise, an Austrade delegation was here in the Capital last week with a view to exchanging ideas, sharing knowledge and best practices. Playing host to them was the  International Road Federation (IRF) which organized a  two-day seminar on "Status of Road Safety and Safe Mobility Initiatives in India"  on January 15 and 16. 

On the occasion, the IRF signed an MoU with Austrade to develop a 16 km stretch in the national capital as a demonstration stretch with latest traffic and junction management gadgets, traffic control systems and lane violation check cameras. The MoU was signed between the IRF Chairman, K. K. Kapila and the Australian Trade Commissioner, Dr. Grayson Perry. 

 "As per the agreement Austrade will develop this demonstration stretch providing and installing Junction management gadgets, speed measurement devices, variable electronic message sign boards, and lane violation check camera’s linked with mini control system for appropriate monitoring of the traffic. Besides these latest gadgets, the latest traffic control devices for smooth flow of traffic and road safety and safe mobility will also be installed making it the first of its kind in the country "aid Mr Kapila. 

"Road safety is a complex and emotive issue. The safety benefits generated from better roads should not be underestimated. Vehicle manufacturers can implement new safety technology, and Governments can improve roads and road rules. But there is no substitute for responsible and safe driving. Road safety is, and will continue to be, everyone's responsibility," said Australia’s Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and regional Development,  Jemie Briggs, speaking as chief guest at the seminar. "Advances in vehicle technology will play a vital role in reducing road trauma. Globally, vehicle technology is on the edge of major transformations which will reduce the road toll exponentially,’’ he added.
"The Government is mulling to establish the National Road Safety and Traffic Management Board - an apex body to address all road safety related issues in the country by end of this year. The board, under the ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH), will be focusing on ‘regulation of road safety, traffic management system and safety standards in highway design and construction." said Mr. Vijay Chhibber, secretary, road transport and highways ministry. 
 "The proposed Road Safety and Traffic Management Board will help in the development and regulation of road safety, traffic management system and safety standards in highway design and construction. The board will have overarching powers to seek explanation and issue directions to both government and private agencies on all issues relating to road safety" said Mr Chhibber. 
 "With 80 per cent of all road deaths worldwide estimated in low income countries , India leads the world in road accident deaths, with around 1,38,000 people being killed each year. India accounts for 10 % of global road accident deaths. Safer roads and mobility is one of the five pillars of the UN Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020. The pillar emphasizes the need to raise the inherent safety and protective quality of road networks for the benefit of all road users."said Mr Kapila, Chairman, IRF.

A Ministerial meeting consisting of various Union Ministers to discuss Road safety was also organised  and Road Safety awards were given away by Mr, Nitin Gadkari, the Union Minister for Road, Transport and Highways. 

Experts attending the seminar  discussed legal initiatives for Road safety, road safety engineering measures, role of education in road safety, vehicle safety and trauma care and road safety from an Australian perspective.  Though experts from the George Institute for Global Health were not present at the seminar, it is one of the several institutions in Australia that has been at the forefront of credible research in the area of road safety and is trying to promote the culture of road safety in many developing countries including India. The George Institute supports the work of the International Road Federation in India and shares the commitment towards vision zero.