A few months back, when I used to live in Siliguri, in West Bengal, the residents of the city saw movable barriers being laid through the middle of the roads. It was done to make the life of commuters easier and reduce traffic. It was indeed a sign of relief; but short-lived. A few days later, we noticed that the barriers were being moved by the pedestrians so that they could cross the roads according to their wish.
Presently, I live in Kishanganj, in Bihar. It has been three weeks since the street light right in front of my house stopped working, and no steps have been taken to fix the issue till now.
These two stories will give readers two completely different facets. One where the citizens are at fault, and the other where the concerned authorities are the ones being irresponsible.
Let’s now see some recent facts and figures:
Although the data shows a decrease of 3%, some states show an increase in the numbers of accidents. As of 2018, India had fewer road accidents, but more fatal ones.
Over-speeding is the leading killer, followed by overtaking, then driving under the influence of alcohol, and lastly, driving on the wrong side.
The figures shown are enough for us to understand that most of the accidents take place due to the faults of the citizens. If believing these figures is tough, then let’s not forget that in our country, the hands of the people have the power to stop a moving car but not traffic lights, increasing bike’s speed and then performing stunts is considered to be a daredevil act, having bikes or car races because somebody has hurt another person’s ego by overtaking them is normal, and not to forget the ubiquitous attitude of “mere baap ki sadak hai!”(it’s my father’s road), because why not? After all, we pay taxes!
Apart from this, even the administrative bodies are at fault. Potholes, improper working or absence of streetlights and the most important, a below-average performance of law enforcement, are some of the shortcomings of our authorities.
How many of us know that there are four different types of lines on the road?
How many of us know what these mean? Certainly, not many.
As part of our civic responsibility, we can always enrich ourselves with the knowledge regarding the rules and regulations and abide by them. We can also try not to drink and drive, use cellphones while we’re on the road, adhere to prescribed speed limits, and not just whine about the problems that we face on roads, but also partake in bringing them to the notice of the concerned authorities from time to time.
As far as the government, the concerned ministries and the people are considered, it can’t be overlooked that the condition of the roads in India is much better now than it was a few years back. But is this enough? Why aren’t the laws being properly enforced? Why do people’s hands prove to enforce a law more stringently than the already existing traffic rules? Why does it take years for the potholes to be repaired, and why do they only come to notice after a mishap?
India is responsible for 11% of road fatalities around the globe and aims to reduce it by 2020, but– owing to the existing rules and methodologies—this target seems impossible to realise. The country can incorporate technology to achieve the target faster and make people’s lives better, and road safety solutions and emerging technologies can lend a helping hand to improve driver safety and reduce road accidents.
Indore is the first city in India to use robots on an experimental basis to control its ever-growing and unruly traffic and recently, Roadeo, the country’s first robot was deployed to road safety and help ease the burden of traffic police on roads.
The first incident I cited in this article stressed the need for us to be responsible citizens and perform our duty in making the roads safer. The second threw light on the responsibility of the authorities towards the citizens. In both cases, the governing, as well as the governed body, is involved. Roads are an integral part of our lives, and every one of us uses them every day. We shouldn’t be in fear when we step out our homes, whether it’s the fear of getting late or of getting caught in an accident.
Road safety shouldn’t be a for concern only when we are using the roads. We shouldn’t complain about the roads, and then forget all about it the moment we reach our destination. Authorities should be more active as well. India’s road deaths are still over a lakh per year, which is costing us 3% of our GDP. Any accident not only breaks a family but also affects the economy.