Road safety is a burning issue in India due to the poor infrastructure and lack of proper maintenance of roads. Indian roads are full of potholes. Road accidents are increasing in numbers and the real reason behind these are poor road design, ill-maintenance of vehicles and also the rash behavior of drivers as we see many young people indulging in reckless driving. According to the data from International Road Federation, there are more deaths due to road accidents than any other way. At present India accounts for 10% of global road accidents with more than 1.47 lakh fatalities annually, the highest in the world. As per the report by Times of India, there have been 3597 deaths due to potholes on roads in the year 2017.
The rate of road-related accidents and injuries are soaring up day by day. It must be noted that potholes are not the only reason behind many deaths, because there are also other factors to consider such as – people’s ignorance towards road safety rules.
Most of us do not even understand the basics of road designs. And I believe the first step towards making our roads safer is to make people aware of what centerline, twin white/yellow lines or zebra crossing are meant for. These are road features that are meant for specific purposes like the centreline which indicates you can overtake if the coast is clear or the zebra crossing is meant for pedestrians to help them cross the road.
People traveling on a two-wheeler sometimes forget to wear a helmet and this has actually cost many lives. People who drink and drive, who do not wear seat-belts, or use mobile phones while driving not only put their lives at risk but also of others.
Some of the common issues which are barriers to road safety measures are overspeeding, violation of safety rules, consumption of alcohol and drugs, road congestion (which can be avoided by using public transport system and carpooling).
So, if the public is guilty of not obeying traffic rules then it’s the government’s duty to correct them. Although we have laws in place, if the public needs are not met, you can’t force public to obey rules either. Firstly, we need a better infrastructure, maintenance and also use quality material for road construction – perhaps the reason for the never ending potholes on most of our roads.
We also need to ensure proper implementation of traffic rules for better road safety. Our roads are even worse when it comes to accessibility for disabled people, they are much less safe for them. The roads in India are not designed to fit the needs of differently-able people. The government needs to implement specific measures to make roads and public transport accessible for all the people. The authorities must also cater to the specific requirements of visually disabled. Right now the lack of ramps on roads is a huge barrier for people on wheelchairs who cannot use the roads if they don’t have vehicles – because it’s unsafe.
If we discuss road safety from the viewpoint of women there is a need to take measures to make the roads safer for women especially at night. Lack of street lights and police patrolling is making Indian roads dangerous for women. India is not safe for its women and the reason is less safe roads. If I talk about my personal experience I often had to face this and got scared. Women safety in public spaces should be our priority.
As parents, people should never let their underage kids drive. The schoolkids should also be educated about road safety and traffic rules. We also need to follow the traffic rules as individuals and avoid jumping red lights no matter how much of a hurry we are in. And young people with motorcycles have the habit of rash driving which is a threat to their lives as well as others. Even as pedestrians, we must be careful while crossing the roads and we must also teach basic road safety rules to our children.
There are different technologies which come in handy which we can use to prevent accidents. Many gadgets are available in the market, and depending on the requirement of a driver, these can be bought and installed to ensure safer roads for drivers and pedestrians alike. For example, the digital tire gauge which measures tire pressure instantly and gives a reading, reducing the tediousness and ensuring simplicity of this crucial function or technology like ‘Lane Change Assists’ developed by automobile companies all over the world assist drivers in changing lanes etc.
Road safety measures should ensure that roads are accessible to drivers as well as pedestrians. Education on the same plays a vital role in shaping the attitude and behavior of children as well as young people, thereby ensuring that they become a responsible drivers, passengers, pedestrians etc.
We can prevent accidents if people and the government come together to make the roads safer for all the citizens – because road safety is everyone’s responsibility.