Roads are not for fun; safety rules and standards must be observed

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Sep 17, 2022 | 05:43 IST

Roads are not for fun; safety rules and standards must be observed

The recent death of former chairman of the Tata group of companies Cyrus Mistry in a road accident shook the country.

The accident was due to speeding, negligent driving and failure to follow safety measures, such as wearing seat belts in the back seat, resulted in the tragic death.

Initially, traffic police across the country showed vigor in imposing fines on people who defied traffic rules and safety standards, but over time it gradually receded.

Recently, Delhi traffic police fined 17 people for not fastening their seat belts in the back seats of their cars. Yes, fines could act as a deterrent to offenders, but that can only be rationalized if people view them as a measure of their own safety rather than avoiding fines.

Two years ago when the country was reeling from Covid and lockdowns, the number of road accidents in the state of Goa in 2020 was around 2,400. Traffic discrepancies were a source number of deaths, injuries and property damage each year. In 2020, vehicle speeding was the leading cause of road accident victims. The South Asian country ranked first out of 200 reported in global road statistics that year for the number of traffic fatalities.

According to data released by the Ministry of Road Transport and Union Highways in May this year, even though the number of road accidents in Goa has dropped, it continues to have the highest rate in the country. , with no other state or union territory coming close to its figure of 109.4 accidents per lakh population. This is about four times the national average of 27.6 accidents per lakh population, according to the report. While the report states that the number of road accidents in Goa has decreased, their severity was actually higher than the previous year. With nine deaths recorded for every 100 road accidents, the severity rate was 9.4 in 2020, compared to 8.6 in 2019.

Recently, the Chief Minister of Goa mentioned that 95% of the accidents that occur in the state are due to drunk driving. This clearly indicates that traffic monitoring, regular and random checks are not in place in Goa which is much needed as it is also a tourist state where thousands of tourists visit every year.

In India, most accidents also involve new vehicles less than 10 years old, mainly involving the fault of the users.

The Planning Commission, in its research from 2001 to 2003, estimated that road collisions resulted in an annual monetary loss of $10 billion (550 billion rupees) during the years 1999-2000. In 2012, the International Road Federation (IRF) estimated that road collisions cause an annual monetary loss of $20 billion (Rs 1 trillion (short scale)) in India. This figure includes expenses associated with the collision victim, property damage and administration costs.

We have all the data and the facts in front of us. What is needed now is a sharing of knowledge and strict surveillance on the road by the traffic police by not only sanctioning the offenders but also confiscating their driving license for a certain period.

The habit of wearing the seat belt in the car, both front and rear, should be inculcated from the inside. In fact, road safety issues should also be part of the school curriculum so that children can not only learn early, before they can get a driver’s license, but also pass their learning on to their parents at home.

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