Mak­ing In­dian roads safer

Multi-level ed­u­ca­tion to play a cru­cial role to el­e­vate safety.

Commercial Vehicle - - WHAT'S INSIDE - Story by: Anirudh Ra­heja

The sixth edi­tion of Mahindra Trans­port Ex­cel­lence awards set a high stan­dard. Held on Fe­bru­ary 03, 2017, at Delhi, the awards, un­der the aegis of the Min­istry of Road Trans­port and High­ways (MoRTH), recog­nised per­for­mance, in­no­va­tion and ex­cel­lence in the truck­ing field. In what could be termed as a 14 per cent in­crease, 6164 case stud­ies were un­der­taken, high­light­ing qual­ity, pos­i­tive change and in­no­va­tion. The awards once again un­der­lined Mahindra’s com­mit­ment to­wards girl child ed­u­ca­tion through the ‘Mahindra Saarthi Ab­hiyaan’. The com­pany also or­gan­ised MSA Out­per­former con­test for MSA schol­ar­ship ben­e­fi­cia­ries along with a short story con­test to har­ness story telling power while mak­ing the roads safer.

Jay Prakash Singh of Bharti Bulk Car­ri­ers was fe­lic­i­tated with the ‘Su­per Out­per­former Driver of the Year’ award. He was handed over keys of a Mahindra Blazo 25 for be­ing a re­spon­si­ble driver, and for sav­ing lives of peo­ple. Singh cleared the strin­gent psy­chomo­tor and psy­cho­me­t­ric tests along with a good un­der­stand­ing of the traf­fic rules. If Singh’s win­ing streak re­flected upon his re­spon­si­ble be­hav­iour and high re­gard for safety, a panel dis­cus­sion just ahead of the awards cer­e­mony fo­cused on mak­ing roads safer.

Mak­ing roads safer

The panel dis­cus­sion on mak­ing roads safer, mod­er­ated by Prof. G Raghu­ram, Fac­ulty and Profres­sor of Pub­lic Sys­tems Group, IIM – Ahmed­abad, turned out be thought pro­vok­ing. It delved upon the prime causes for road re­lated deaths, and how aware­ness can be cre­ated to cur­tail such mishaps. Prof. Raghu­ram pointed out that over speed­ing is the ma­jor cause of ac­ci­dents. He claimed that it were the cause of close to 41 per cent road ac­ci­dents. The next cause, he said, was over­tak­ing, at 32 per cent. Raghu­ram also drew at­ten­tion to the con­sump­tion of al­co­hol by driv­ers. Truck driv­ers, he said, ac­count for merely three per cent of the road deaths due to al­co­hol. “It is the driver, road en­gi­neer­ing and ve­hi­cle that play a crit­i­cal role in the trans­port ecosys­tem,” he added. Ac­cord­ing to Raghu­ram, reg­u­la­tions and other op­er­a­tional con­trols through traf­fic man­age­ment sys­tem and po­lice have to fall in place to cre­ate a safe ecosys­tem. “As buses han­dle a lot of pas­sen­gers, it is im­por­tant to take bold steps and cre­ate the nec­es­sary aware­ness across var­i­ous plat­forms,” he averred.

Pan­elist Ravi Prasad, Chief Engi­neer – Road Safety, MoRTH, called for a need to reach to the root of ev­ery ac­ci­dent. He opined that ev­ery ac­ci­dent has mul­ti­ple causes that are com­plex in na­ture. He drew at­ten­tion to the four Es of road safety – En­gi­neer­ing, Ed­u­ca­tion, En­force­ment and Emer­gency Care. Stat­ing that road en­gi­neer­ing and road safety are of in­di­vid­ual im­por­tance, Prasad said, “De­spite be­ing re­source con­straint, road en­gi­neer­ing

has moved at a pace that has left be­hind road safety due to nu­mer­ous rea­sons.” “There is a gap that needs to be bridged through con­sis­tent and spe­cial ef­forts,” he quipped.

OEM role

On the role OEMs have come to play, Ra­jan Wad­hera, Pres­i­dent and Chief Ex­ec­u­tive, Truck and Pow­er­train Di­vi­sion, Head – MRV, and Mem­ber – Group Ex­ec­u­tive Board, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, ex­pressed that the ge­om­e­try of the ve­hi­cle plays a cru­cial role in a road ac­ci­dent. Stress­ing upon the in­tro­duc­tion of seat belts, ABS, airbags and the us­age of high ten­sile strength steel, ve­hi­cles are be­com­ing safer, he added. Wad­hera stated fur­ther, that due to var­i­ous reg­u­la­tory norms, road side body build­ing of truck and bus bod­ies will be con­tained. Fully­built bod­ies will of­fer in­creased en­ergy ab­sorp­tion ca­pac­ity.” Draw­ing at­ten­tion to Mahindra hav­ing joined hands with Savelife Foun­da­tion to make the Mum­bai-Pune Ex­press­way a zero fa­tal­ity cor­ri­dor, Wad­hera said that the fully-built CVs will also in­flu­ence a move to­wards stricter emis­sion norms. Stat­ing that the Mum­bai-Pune cor­ri­dor wit­nessed 150 deaths in the year 2016, Wad­hera touched upon the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of 2600 black spots that cause ac­ci­dent on the re­spec­tive route. “600 black spots out of the 2600 black spots iden­ti­fied have been re­solved,” he added.

Driver as­pect

Lady truck driver Yogita Raghu­van­shi and Jay Prakash Singh, as pan­elists, brought to the fore the driver as­pect. Yogita drew at­ten­tion to driv­ers be­ing ha­rassed un­nec­es­sar­ily for bribes. She and Singh stressed upon pay­ing at­ten­tion to the driver fra­ter­nity. It has been ne­glected for long, the duo said. Em­pha­sis­ing upon driv­ers of­ten get­ting li­censes with­out spe­cialised train­ing and tests, Yogita said, “Cer­ti­fied train­ing schools are nec­es­sary to im­part a sound un­der­stand­ing of ve­hi­cle size and ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity. It is nec­es­sary that the driver is at­ten­tive and has the pres­ence of mind.” Singh stressed upon re­duc­ing the tran­sit time for quicker trans­porta­tion of food items. Said Yogita that over­bridges across states are nec­es­sary as they min­imise pub­lic move­ment and re­duce time wastage in chang­ing high­ways. Opined Singh that it is not the truck driver who is at fault al­ways. He touched upon un­timely ve­hi­cle park­ing on the road side that of­ten causes avoid­able ac­ci­dents. “High beams make it un­easy for driv­ers to con­stantly con­cen­trate on the road. Po­lice and RTO in some states like UP, MP, Orissa, Chat­tis­garh and Ra­jasthan spell trou­ble for truck driv­ers. This is not the case in south In­dia,” he added.

Pos­si­ble so­lu­tions

Prof. Tamor­ish Kole, Chair, Aca­demic Coun­cil, So­ci­ety for Emer­gency Medicine and Ad­vi­sor – Savelife Foun­da­tion, and Pr­erna Arora Singh, Road Safety Ex­pert, Ad­vo­cate and Ed­u­ca­tion­ist, opined that a lot needs to be done to make the roads safer. The two touched upon fol­low­ing traf­fic rules. “Right from the top to the bot­tom of the pyra­mid, ca­pac­ity build­ing is very im­por­tant in In­dia of all the stake­hold­ers in this sec­tor,” said Pr­erna Singh. Kole called for ef­forts to pre­vent ac­ci­dents. A five per cent re­duc­tion in speed can lead to a fall in fa­tal­i­ties by 30 per cent, he rea­soned.

Take away

The take away of the panel dis­cus­sion was the need to fol­low traf­fic rules and drive re­spon­si­bly. The take away was also on the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of un­safe con­di­tions, and to im­me­di­ately ad­dress them. The pan­elists came to con­clude that there should be one med­i­cal helpline. Em­pha­sis­ing upon the need for right ed­u­ca­tion at all lev­els and in school cur­ricu­lum, the pan­elists called for elim­i­na­tion of sys­tem dis­crep­an­cies that lead to ha­rass­ment of good Sa­mar­i­tans.

⇨ There is a dire need to make roads safer.

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