[op-ed snap] Roads To Nowhere

Context:

  1. India has a dubious record of having the most road traffic accidents and fatalities in the world, barring China
  2. There are over five lakh accidents every year and in 2015, 1,46,133 people were killed on our roads

Factors contributing to road accidents:

  1. Lacunae in road design
  2. Poor quality and maintenance
  3. Inadequate safety features in vehicles and dangerous driver behaviour. Undisciplined driving is itself a result of decades of weak enforcement
  4. Rising income levels, heavy dependence on road transport (for intercity travel and freight movement)
  5. Poor public transport and pedestrian infrastructure in cities have magnified these problems, resulting in this daily carnage

Enforcement problems:

  1. The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 is a Central law, while the agencies for enforcement, the police and the RTOs, are state-controlled
  2. The enforcement of basic laws, such as traffic violations, is resisted by the public and the police often face a backlash with no political support
  3. Wider roads coupled with more powerful vehicles have increased reckless driving — very significant reasons for not only more accidents, but also more severe ones

How to stop these rising numbers?

  1. The mantra has to be for each stakeholder to stop blaming the other and do what they need to do
  2. Auto manufacturers need to meet global safety standards and not blame road quality or driver behaviour
  3. The police need to enforce the law and not blame the RTO for granting licences without proper testing
  4. The National Highways Authority of India and the various PWDs need to focus on better road design, and engineering
  5. Cities need to aggressively improve public transport and non-motorised transport infrastructure and curb use of private vehicles
  6. Finally, vehicle operators need to follow traffic rules, wear helmets and seat belts and not blame corrupt officials or cite traffic congestion for their behaviour

The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2017:

  1. Penal provisions need to be made stricter
  2. Fines, currently set at 1988 levels, need to be revised to make them an effective deterrent
  3. Petrol prices have increased 10-fold in this period; so, an increase of fines by five times is eminently justified
  4. Since speeding is a leading cause of accidents and deaths, limiting the speeds or acceleration capability of vehicles manufactured for use in India must be set by the law
  5. Drunken driving is a serious offence and must be effectively stamped out
  6. The government must consider allowing random sobriety tests and reducing allowable blood alcohol levels for young and novice drivers to 20 mg per 100 ml of blood
  7. A scientific investigation of road crashes and criminal liability of officials and contractors found responsible for poor road quality is also essential

Note4Students:

Road traffic accidents spare no one, be they rich or poor, urban or rural, young or old, man or woman or of any caste or religion. The legislators, therefore, need to take tough decisions which are in the best interest of the country. A tough law is not the end, but only the beginning of reforms that are needed to halve road traffic accidents by 2020, a commitment we have made by adopting the Brasilia Declaration for Road Safety. Important op-ed for both Prelims and Mains.

Note4Students:

Brasilia Declaration for Road Safety:

  1. Hosted by the Government of Brazil on 18-19 November 2015 in Brasilia, Brazil
  2. Co-sponsored by WHO
  3. At the close of the Conference, the 2200 delegates adopted the “Brasilia Declaration on Road Safety” through which they agreed ways to halve road traffic deaths by the end of this decade – a key milestone within the new Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target
  4. Brasilia Declaration is a call to rethink transport policies in order to favour more sustainable modes of transport such as walking, cycling and using public transport
  5. It highlights strategies to ensure the safety of all road users, particularly by improving laws and enforcement; making roads safer through infrastructural modifications; ensuring that vehicles are equipped with life-saving technologies; and enhancing emergency trauma care systems

[pib] Target to Lower the Road Accidents

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has taken a number of steps to prevent   road accidents as per details mentioned under:

  1. The Government has approved a National Road Safety Policy. This Policy outlines various policy measures such as promoting awareness, encouraging safer road infrastructure including application of intelligent transport, enforcement of safety laws trauma care etc.
  2. The Government has constituted the National Road Safety Council as the apex body to take policy decisions in matters of road safety
  3. The Ministry has requested all States/UTs for setting up of State Road Safety Council and District Road Safety Committees, and to hold their meetings regularly
  4. The Ministry has formulated a multi-pronged strategy to address the issue of road safety based on 4 ‘E’s viz. Education, Engineering (both of roads and vehicles), Enforcement and Emergency Care
  5. Road safety has been made an integral part of road design at planning stage
  6. Road Safety Audit of selected stretches of National Highways has been taken up
  7. High priority has been accorded to identification and rectification of black spots (accident prone spots) on national highways
  8. Setting up of model driving training institutes in States and refresher training to drivers of Heavy Motor Vehicle in the unorganized sector
  9. Advocacy/Publicity campaign on road safety through the electronic and print media
  10. Tightening of safety standards for vehicles like Seat Belts, Power-steering, anti-lock braking system etc.
  11. Providing cranes and ambulances to various State Governments under the National Highway Accident Relief Service Scheme for development on National Highways
  12. National Highways Authority of India also provides ambulances at a distance of 50 Km. on each of its completed stretches of National Highways under its Operation & Maintenance contracts

Note4Students:

Important points for Mains answer.

PIB

Transport ministry to explore 6 new mass rapid transportation technologies

  1. What: With an aim to revamp public transportation in the country, the ministry of road transport and highways has sought approval of Niti Aayog to experiment and introduce six latest mass rapid transportation technologies
  2. These technologies include metrino, stadler buses, hyperloop, pod taxis, hybrid buses and freight rail road, pitched by metro-man E. Sreedharan
  3. E. Sreedharan has also pitched in a proposal for elevated freight rail road
  4. Under his proposal, elevated corridors would be built with rail lines where freight trucks can be placed
  5. They would then move on rails at a high speed, reducing freight time and increasing freight quantity
  6. The new technologies are being explored as the current public transportation is unable to resolve the increasing traffic crisis in the country and they are more cost effective
  7. According to officials, after the success of Delhi metro, several metro projects have come with huge investments but they are not successful due to small ridership
  8. Despite this state govts are adamant
  9. These technologies would give them alternate, more cost-effective public transportation technologies that are more rapid


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