It is alarming that our roads are becoming virtual killing fields, as the vehicle population increases across the globe unabatedly. Pedestrians are at more risk than ever before if the latest statistics of deaths on the roads are any indication. Fatalities on the rail tracks also are on the rise.
According to figures available with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 4,280 pedestrians died in traffic crashes in 2010 – a 4% increase from the number reported in 2009. According to available global statistics, almost two-thirds of the 1.2 million people killed annually in road accidents worldwide are pedestrians. Meanwhile, it has been reported that, in India, over 50,000 people lost their lives on the railways tracks in over 3 years between 2009 and 2012, and a majority of them pedestrians.
India has one of the highest numbers of pedestrians because of the sheer size of the country’s population. As such, it is essential that the country should have safe road environments. There should not be any compromise on providing safe facilities for walking and crossing the road. Equally important is that pedestrians should simultaneously be educated to use these facilities for their safety. Road safety legislations should be given more teeth and enforcement strategies. Better traffic management and speed control strategies will enhance further the safety of people on the roads. There is no denying the fact that safety on the roads is the fundamental right of every citizen.
To rectify these and many other problems related to our road safety, the Road Transport and Highways Ministry of the Government of India recently unveiled the draft Road Safety and Transport Bill, 2014, which is out on its portal for the public and the stakeholders to put forward their suggestions. Since the Bill has been drafted in sync with the traffic legislation of the developed nations, we can expect some drastic changes.
This issue of Safety Messenger has its focus on road safety. We have taken every effort to make the readers realise the gravity of the situation. We also
expect the authorities to come out with better traffic management strategies and make the enforcement mechanism more effective. Funds constraints should not be an excuse for not making the roads and tracks safer. Needless to say, implementing road safety programmes requires a skillful mix of road engineering and enforcement measures, along with a change in the traffic culture of society at large.
While calling for concerted efforts by all concerned to make our roads and rail tracks safer, I also take this opportunity to wish all our readers, well-wishers and supporters a very happy, prosperous and safer New Year!