“ACCIDENT”, the very word induces a sense of trauma in our minds. The number of accidents in our country is increasing by leaps and bounds. The statistics for India are frightening. According to a recent one, more than 15 people die every hour in India in fatal road accidents. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that by 2030, road fatalities will become the world’s fifth greatest killer, and the scenario is worse here than other developing countries. Precisely, every 60 seconds an accident occurs in India and a heart stops beating every 3.7 minutes!
While other countries have acquired much advanced technologies to prevent road accidents, India is still writhing in pain with its age old traffic signalling system which most of the times, work at its own whims. Even China, the most populous country, has much lesser number of road fatalities. Driving on Indian roads is no less dangerous than securing your way through a mine-infested forest. The State Governments, PWD and Municipal Corporations deliver speeches and arrange meetings every year but all in vain. The actual condition is deteriorating day by day and road accidents are really becoming an ‘epidemic’.
But why? Why millions of lives are snuffing out in such a horrible manner? What are the reasons behind those catastrophes?
The answers lie in our behaviours. Are we enough dutiful as citizens? Are we abide by the traffic rules while driving or walking? NO, we don’t. Just as the saying ”charity begins at home”, ‘safety’ should start with ME. If every driver obeys the traffic safety rules the scenario would change in no time. But the present pattern and set of rules are not enough to prevent road accidents. We need a wholesome system to meet the challenge. Here are some suggestions which, I think, will be helpful to combat this titanic problem.
Most of the drivers in our country actually have no idea about road-safety. They manage to get licenses by hook or by crook and then begin their own adventures on roads. There should be mandatory courses for every aspiring driver where they will be enlightened about the proper use of seat-belts, helmets and other road etiquette. That overtaking or zooming off at a top-speed is not a sign of machismo but only are prelude to probable accidents.
In every school, a road-safety course should be conducted annually to make future drivers aware of their responsibilities from the very beginning. If possible, there should be road-shows or field-trips to emphasize and make things understandable to them.
Students who opt for NCC or Girls’ Guide can volunteer to help traffic department for a week or so. They have a different appeal to the public as students and people generally feel ashamed when reprimanded by juniors.
Role Of Media
Media, both television and newspaper, have neglected to use their enormous power to make people aware of road-safety. Celebrity endorsements, short movies/ documentaries/ cartoons on road safety should be there on prime-time so that largest number of people can watch them. The responsibility of the fourth estate doesn’t end on publishing or telecasting numerous news of accidents. They should also come forward and take active parts to prevent them.
Laws, Rules & Regulations
We’ve a set of traffic rules and laws and they need to be more effective. Use of mobile phones while driving is becoming the prime cause of accidents these days. On-the-spot fine should be charged if one is seen using mobile while driving or even crossing a road. Pedestrians should also be alert while crossing roads and those flapping of hands should be strictly stopped while crossing the road with the RED light on.
Car-stereos should have a definite decibel. Teenagers do have a tendency to increase the volume to the highest level which is beyond tolerance and makes one easily distracted while driving.
Driving license should be issued after thorough testing. In India, getting a driver’s license is not a troublesome job as it is in other countries. The tests should be more rigorous and corruption-free.
Many over-enthusiastic drivers have a tendency to break the rule of ‘keeping safe distance’ or are too lazy to blow the horn while there is a turn. Road sides CCTV cameras should be installed at least in big metro cities to prevent such callousness.
DRUNKEN DRIVING, this claims many a life every year. This is also a part of social awareness and I think some ‘models’ of some crumpled car debris ( due to accidents) at important points of cities, can have some effect. Visuals always have better effects than mere audios. The law against drunken driving needs to be the strictest, for in this case, no other but only the driver is solely responsible for the catastrophic consequence.
Role Of Government
While Government should amend some laws and announce road-safety as one of the most important national problems, officials who are related with the traffic department need to get rid of corruption. Bribing is such a common thing when it comes to on-the-spot fining. Often the drivers are well aware of the fact that they can save their backs easily even after disobeying traffic rules. It’s a pity that we’ve failed to make law-abiding citizens even after so many years of independence.
Condition of roads is also a major cause of unintentional accidents. Roads of small towns, big cities, even the National Highways are decorated with b-i-g craters and often the undulation gives the illusion of waves on land! Street lights don’t work at many places thus making the roads extremely dangerous for both drivers and pedestrians at night. The condition becomes worst in monsoon. Maintenance of roads should be taken as a serious issue by the authority.
Effective use of signboards, posts and signals can help a lot to prevent accidents. As a developing country, we can’t afford using any high-end technology to ensure road-safety. But we can always use road-posts, signboards at regular intervals clearly stating the condition of the road ahead or whether there is any steep turn. Those sign boards should be written clearly in bold letters and in three languages, English, Hindi and regional. This will be quite helpful to all.
But everything said, the real urge must come from within. It should come from everyone of us. We need to change our mind- set and attitude in order to make the situation better. Providing safer roads is a cumulative approach and we have to understand our responsibilities. Nissan Safety Driving Forum (NSDF) conducted by Nissan Motor Co.Ltd.is trying to develop this road safety awareness among masses since 2012. Under its Blue Citizenship CSR umbrella, NSDF is working hard to make people aware of traffic do’s and don’ts. “NSDF encourages drivers and passengers to wear seat-belts, and participants learn through interactive activities the importance of wearing seat-belts.”
Let’s join hands together with NSDF to make India a better place for pedestrians, drivers and motorists. Let’s make safety a habit. I’ve vowed to do my bit, to abide by the traffic rules while on road and encourage others to do so. I’ve realized that #SafetyBeginsWithMe. It’s time for all of us to vouch for the same. Let’s get united to build a safer India.
Image Courtesy : Nissan Safety Driving Forum