Road and Highway Safety – National Road Safety Policy, Good Samaritans, etc.

Road safety in India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: road safety

Road SafetyContext

  • A horrific car accident killed Cyrus Mistry and Jehangir Pandole. This tragedy got plenty of people thinking about road safety measures. Sadly, neither Mistry nor Pandole was wearing their rear-seat safety belts this highlights importance of following road safety norms.

What’s the meaning of road safety?

  • Road safety means methods and measures aimed at reducing the likelihood or the risk of persons using the road network getting involved in a collision or an incident that may cause property damages, serious injuries and/or death.

What is road safety education?

  • The aim of education, training and encouragement in Road Safety is to educate all road users in the proper and safe use of roads in order to change user attitudes and behaviour and to stimulate an awareness of the need for improvement in road safety.

What affects road safety?

  • Several factors most notably speed, traffic density, flow, congestion, demographics (namely age gender and deprivation), driving behaviour (involving alcohol consumption, helmet or seat belt usage) and land use, such as residential or economic zones, were found to have mixed effects on road safety.

Road SafetyWhat are examples of road safety?

  • Pedestrian crossing warning;
  • Left turn driver assistance; and
  • Approaching emergency vehicle warning.

Road Accidents in India A lookover

  • In spite of several years of policymaking to improve road safety, India remains among the worst-performing countries in this area.
  • Total 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.

Do you know?

The ‘golden hour’ has been defined as ‘the time period lasting one hour following a traumatic injury during which there is the highest likelihood of preventing death by providing prompt medical care.

Causes of Road Accidents in India

  • Sub-standard roads: The life of roads is not good due to the substandard raw materials and potholes accidents caused.
  • Traffic: The increasing traffic on roads and conditions of roads are not proportionate to each other.
  • Use of mobile phone: Most of the people are on call while driving thus they drive recklessly and accidents happen as most of the Indians now have mobile phones.
  • Drunk Driving: Drinking makes people lose the ability to focus and function properly. This makes it dangerous for the driver to operate the vehicle.
  • Dis-obedience for traffic rules: Indian drivers are quick to learn to drive but they don’t learn traffic rules and the purpose of such rules.
  • Malpractices: Malpractices such as over-speeding, triple riding, underage driving, etc are reducing the safety of road users.
  • Implementation drawbacks: Police are supposed to execute the rules but, it may be a lack of workforce or lack of intention, they also fail to execute.
  • Corrupt practices: Mostly police use the rules to mint money either officially by Chalan or in person.

Key data for value addition

Despite being home to only 1% of the world’s vehicles, India shoulders 11% of the global road crash fatality burden.

Road SafetyVarious Policy Initiatives by government

  • Road Safety: In the area of road safety, the Act proposes to increase penalties to act as deterrent against traffic violations. Stricter provisions are being proposed in respect of offences like juvenile driving, drunken driving, driving without licence, dangerous driving, over-speeding, overloading etc. Stricter provisions for helmets have been introduced along with provisions for electronic detection of violations.
  • Vehicle Fitness: Automated fitness testing for vehicles has been made mandatory. This would reduce corruption in the transport department while improving the road worthiness of the vehicle. Penalty has been provided for deliberate violation of safety/environmental regulations as well as for body builders and spare part suppliers.
  • Recall of Vehicles: The Act allows the central government to order for recall of motor vehicles if a defect in the vehicle may cause damage to the environment, or the driver, or other road users.
  • Road Safety Board: A National Road Safety Board, to be created by the central government through a notification to advise the central and state governments on all aspects of road safety and traffic management. This would include standards of motor vehicles, registration and licensing of vehicles, standards for road safety, and promotion of new vehicle technology.
  • Protection of Good Samaritan: The Act lays down the guidelines and provides rules to prevent harassment of Good Samaritan to encourage people to help road accident victims.
  • Cashless Treatment during Golden Hour: The Act provides for a scheme for cashless treatment of road accident victims during golden hour.

Value addition for good marks

The 4 ‘E’ Approach

  • The Government of India put forth Engineering, Economy, Enforcement and Education as the fundamental areas to focus on in order to ensure road safety.

Way forward

  • Road safety education from the primary level: Those already using our roads and driving or riding on it could have formed bad habits that are difficult to change or undo. So it’s important that we catch them young and start educating children on road safety and correct behaviour on the road.
  • Better first aid and paramedic care: In most cases, the public and police are the first ones to reach the site of an accident. But sadly, neither has any first aid training and the police don’t even have even simple things like a first aid box or stretcher. This initial trauma care has to improve.
  • Stricter criteria for driving licenses: Fortunately, the government has recognized the need for this, and getting a driving license is no longer as easy as before. Lots of the process has been digitalized and made more stringent. But it’s still far from perfect and lots more needs to be done
  • Better road design, maintenance, and signage: Many of our roads are poorly designed with badly placed junctions, acute corners, uneven gradients, sudden speed-breakers, etc. And this is made worse by poor road maintenance and many accidents occur because a driver suddenly swerves to avoid a pothole.
  • Heavy crackdown against non-compliance: This is one of the leading causes of road accidents in India and while we do have strict laws, the enforcement, particularly on our highways is quite lax. Consumption of drugs by truck drivers while driving is rampant, and this needs to stop completely.
  • Stricter enforcement of traffic rules: The Amended Motor Vehicles Act has higher penalties and punishment to deter people from committing traffic offenses and driving rashly. It’s high time we enforced our traffic rules and imposed discipline while driving and using the road.
  • Encouraging better road behaviour: The people should motivate themselves to behave in a better manner on the road. The campaigns such as “Be the Better Guy”, need to be applauded, encouraged and expanded.

Mains question

Q. In spite of several years of policymaking to improve road safety, India remains among the worst-performing countries in this area. Critically analyse.


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