By Rajat Kalra:
Friday, July 29, 2016
The picture (below) in question is that of National Highway 907 (NH 907), Yamuna Nagar, which is currently going through a dangerous overhauling process. Unfortunately, this highway lies near my office space, enough to give me cold shivers when I drive through. These blocks of concrete thrown haywire in the middle of the road are waiting for their turn that may take a couple of days to be shaped into a divider. The gigantic slabs have already pushed many vehicles, especially two-wheelers in a danger zone since there is no appropriate traffic equipment to indicate ‘work-in-progress’ to the passing-by vehicles. Allegedly there have been unreported fatal accidents during the dark hours wherein two wheelers rammed into these blocks that suddenly appear as a frightening surprise to the riders with a faint headlight. And then it’s too late. What if they had a close encounter with death?
Although I must say, it is highly commendable that we are frequently witnessing upgradation of highways since last two years, but it is heartbreaking to see the concerned authorities still lack an effective method of doing so. Why is it that in our country it is enough just to get the task done, without paying heed to exploring the best ways of doing it with perfection? I strongly believe, it’s not just what you do, but how you do is what equally matters.
The basic processes of road construction, operation or maintenance must take into consideration the safety of ongoing traffic. One of the ways is to diverge the traffic through an alternate route until the construction/overhauling is complete. However, if that’s not possible, the road safety department must audit the site to verify if all the traffic safety equipment is installed.
This equipment includes, portable floor stands with appropriate message and colour coded reflectors, traffic signage, barricades and road safety cones. Unfortunately, none of these is seen in the picture provided. Although I did see a dirtily fabricated iron board that carelessly whispered a lame caution statement, merely visible to the riders. It seemed like the road authority did a big favour for traffic by placing them. The same scenario exists with other highway overhauling sites as well. Yet, life moves on and a common man on the road is compelled to come to terms with “Ye to chalta hai” attitude.
It gets surprising when things don’t change despite the fact that data on road safety standards is available in India. Just in case you are not aware, on-road safety standards in our nation stand one of the poorest in the whole wide world. Imagine the plight of our country where 400 people die on roads/due to road related incidents every day.
Reportedly, this number soared by 5% in 2015. Besides causing everlasting distress to the grieved family, accidents due to lack of safety standards amount to 2% to 3% negative impact on GDP. That’s really high!
The prevalent notion that road deaths are caused majorly due to human errors is changing now. It can’t be ignored and is well known that road infrastructure dispossessed of basic safety equipment is one of the major causes of accidents. Development of highways must be planned and carried out in such a manner that it takes into account the drivers’ failings. Only then we will be able to curb the number of road deaths rising in our country.