In 2015, India was among the signatories of the Brasilia Declaration, and committed to reducing road fatalities and accidents by 50% by 2020. As of 2018, however, India is still far behind on meeting this target. The country still sees a whopping 1,00,000+ annual deaths on roads, and the number of injuries is about 2 to 3 times higher.
Youth Ki Awaaz and Safer Roads for Gurugram conducted a nationwide, online survey to identify gaps in awareness of road safety rules and regulations and behaviour patterns of young people on the roads. Drawing 7,552 responses from respondents belonging to different age groups, genders and locations, the survey threw up interesting insights based on which existing mechanisms can be strengthened to improve road safety in India.
Here’s a brief snapshot of the Youth Ki Awaaz on Road Safety in India:
It’s a sad reality that 377 people lose their lives in road related accidents in India everyday. A lot of these lives could be saved if bystanders intervened in road accidents and chose to help victims by getting them CPR or to the nearest hospital on time. However, a key issue that stands in the way of this is the fear road users have of getting into trouble with authorities for helping victims on the road.
To change this, in 2016, the Supreme Court of India gave “force of law” to the guidelines for the protection of Good Samaritans issued by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, which provides “legal protection to bystanders who come to the aid and rescue of victims of road crashes”.
While this is a good step in the right direction, the reality is starkly different:
Lack of awareness of the law is a key reason why road users continue to be apathetic to the needs of road accident victims. Even in India’s largest cities, all of which fall under the list of top 10 cities for most road-related accidents, according to data issued by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in 2016, awareness of the Good Samaritan Law remains low, as can be seen in the chart below.
The chief reasons for so many road related accidents and fatalities occurring on Indian roads are born out of human error, the Ministry reports. Chief among these, are over speeding, drunken driving, distracted driving, jumping the red light and avoidance of wearing a seat belt or helmet. Despite several ad campaigns and awareness programmes being run by the government and civic society bodies, these issues persist. Perhaps a reason for this is that these programmes aren’t reaching young people at the scale that they ought to, as indicated by the chart below.
A whopping 84% of young people say they haven’t heard of the initiatives being taken by the government and civic society to ensure better road safety. Given this, and other reasons, road users continue to indulge in behaviours that risk their safety on the road.
Even among young people, there is a section that has admitted to jumping red lights on roads (1513 respondents said so), many of whom (20%) have indulged in this behaviour as recently as the previous month. One reason could be the lack of enforcement of the law which fines people who jump the red light, as 14% of the respondents said they weren’t aware of the fine to be paid for jumping red lights.
Across India’s major cities, awareness of the fine for jumping red lights hasn’t reached every last person using the road, a key area that requires immediate attention.
Usage of seat belts and helmets have relatively higher numbers among young respondents, as indicated by the chart below; however, there’s a pressing need to convert this number to cent percent in the near future. 2.8% of the respondents, in fact, admitted to very rarely using helmets and seat belts on the road.
Despite awareness campaigns and strengthening of laws, the move to curb drunken driving on the road hasn’t eliminated the harmful habit. Throwing light on a frightening trend, 2.4% of the respondents on the survey admitted to drunken driving once a month, and 1.39% admitted to indulging in the habit once a week.
Pedestrian safety, too, has become a critical concern for authorities to curb road related accidents and fatalities in Indian cities. As the chart below indicates, just a little over half of the respondents on the survey actually wait for the right traffic signal before crossing the road.
Further, a whopping 78% of young respondents said they do not use the foot overbridge to cross the roads. This trend could be an indication that placement and user convenience need to be prioritised more while designing foot overbridges for crossing the road.
These responses indicate just how much more and in what direction the government, media and civic society need to align efforts to improve road safety and instil safer road user behaviours to lower accidents, road fatalities and strengthen the systems on India’s roads.
This is just a snapshot of what the Youth Ki Awaaz and Safer Roads for Gurugram survey revealed. For more insights, drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.