In a developing country like India where roads are far from ideal and automobile safety standards are nowhere near those of the developed countries, it is heartening that, finally, road safety is emerging as a top priority of policymakers and that automobile safety is a major concern of vehicle manufacturers. It is expected that the next few years will witness a major leap by India in the road safety sector. These developments comes in the wake of the global community taking serious note of the alarming rise in traffic related deaths and Second Global High-level Conference resolving to chalking out an action plan to bring down such fatalities by half.
Automobile manufacturers are earnestly adding road safety to their list of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives in their bid to ensure that driving in India can be made safer, according to latest reports. Equally heartening is the fact that the Government is seized of the issue and is planning to bring down road-accident deaths by half in the next 5 years.
Global studies indicate that India is ‘home to the deadliest roads.’ For a nation trying hard to shed the over-publicised image of a poverty-stricken, unsafe country, it is high this dubious distinction is changed. It is welcome that the present Government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is going all-out to ensure that India will be at par with developed nations in respect of road safety. With over 22 million vehicles produced annually, the Indian auto industry is one of the fastest-growing markets in the world.
Several studies – including one from IRTE suggest that the loss of lives in road deaths translates to a loss of up to 3 per cent of India’s GDP. India’s Planning Commission puts the loss at Rs 80,000 crore ($12.75bn) annually. That alone should be an incentive for the government to get moving on formulating a stronger and tighter safety regime. Let us not forget that India is also home to the biggest manufacturer of two-wheelers, and we should also take into account safety standards and laws for bikes – and indeed commercial vehicles too.
India’s “Automotive Mission Plan 2020” which sets out certain targets – including safety norms – for the industry is getting a renewed momentum according to reports. There has been a crash and vehicle testing centre proposed for years, which is now set to be completed by the end of 2015. And this will help to implement new safety guidelines or norms faster.
There is a renewed concern on road and automobile safety among the global community as evident from the resolves arrived at the Second Global High-Level Conference on Road Safety, hosted by the Government of Brazil and supported by the WHO held at Brazil in November this year. Te conference resolved to spur action on what works to prevent these tragedies and improve safety on the roads for all who use them. The conference also reviewed progress in the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 and defined next steps at global and national level to achieve the goal of the Decade of Action to save 5 million lives and chalked out an urgent action plans to achieve the goals.
Road traffic injuries take the lives of roughly 1.24 million people every year, and injure as many as 50 million more. These statistics are acknowledged by the United Nations and its Member States as a considerable challenge to the achievement of health and development goals.
(Read full part of this story from the December issue of Safety Messenger Magazine 2015)