Road accident-related deaths are a major concern for India. In the year 2018 alone, over 1.5 lakh lives were lost, making India rank number one in road accident-related deaths according to the report of World Road Statistics. This is a frightening situation and it is even more disturbing to note that the victims of about 69.6% of these accidents have been young adults belonging to the age group of 18-45.
The loss of young lives is a major cause of worry as it is not just human lives that are lost but also the economic growth potential of the country, by causing a loss of about 5% of the GDP every year. It is for this reason that India had signed the Brasilia Declaration in 2015 and had pledged to work towards reducing road accidents and fatalities by half by the year 2020.
As the largest youth-led organisation that is working towards improving road safety in India, Indian Road Safety Campaign strives to combat these with the help of an elaborate network of students and youth volunteers who are associated with the organisation and working closely with people from WHO, UN, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, State Governments, Supreme Court, TRIPP, etc. to create reforms in the various sectors.
It is a shame that the country’s precious human resource is being wasted because of accidents occurring due to causes such as over speeding, drunk driving, distracted driving, not wearing seat belts, not wearing helmets, tripling on two-wheelers, jumping red lights, etc. – all of which could have been avoided simply through proper enforcement of road safety laws. Therefore, making the youth aware of the current situation and training them to respond properly after the occurrence of road accidents can play a crucial role in saving lives.
The IRSC is approaching school students as a part of Hero Motocorp’s Be A Road Hero campaign, along with Hindustan Times, to educate young children about road safety. The Be A Road Hero campaign aims to conduct interactive sessions for students of Classes III to VIII is an ingenious attempt to educate them about road safety signs and rules, the Good Samaritan rule, etc. through various activities.
The sessions are ended by making the students take the Hero pledge for road safety. Inculcating young minds with responsible road traffic habits can go a long way in ensuring road safety and this is what the organisation aims to achieve by targeting school children in their awareness drives, for which about 50 schools have been covered across Delhi and NCR in the month of December. Visiting schools can also help bring into the spotlight the lapses that are present in the road safety laws for children.
For instance, there are no strict laws against the practice of seating children on the mother’s lap without a seat belt; child seats and restraints remain an unknown concept despite the fact that these can reduce the risk of death during crashes by 70% according to the data provided by the WHO. Also, the importance of child helmets has been a matter of continuous negligence both on the part of the passengers and that of the government.
So far, India has not met the commitment made in the Brasilia Declaration. The poor conditions of the roads and infrastructure, lack of strict road safety laws that are at par with the global standard, lack of a uniform maximum speed for the vehicles in India, an abysmal system of emergency response after an accident, etc. along with the lack of proper enforcement of the pre-existing laws are some of the areas that need work and it is only through the involvement of the youth that these problems can be resolved.
Making the masses aware of road safety laws is a humongous task and a large number of enthusiastic individuals need to come together to achieve complete success in this endeavor. The awareness sessions thus provide an innovative method to attain both the education and participation of the youth towards building a safer India.