IT’S TIME TO CREATE A PROPER & SAFE TRAFFIC ENVIRONMENT IN THE COUNTRY – Dr Rohit Baluja, President, IRTE
Road accidents are considered to be a serious public health problem and this problem as ever has been more serious in India with around 5 lakh road accidents reported every year. However, ensuring road safety is a priority area of Ministry of Road Transport & Highways and India is too a signatory to Brasilia Declaration that committed it to reduce the number of road accidents and fatalities by 50 percent by 2020. With increasingly motorization/urbanization/migration has faced India severe road congestion in most areas and CAGR of motor vehicles over 10 percent, growth in road network only 4 percent causing congestion that led to impacting road safety. Road safety entails holistic issue involving roads, motor vehicles, and human beings. It needs coordination between different stakeholders and in a federal set up like in India much depends on efforts of States to mobilize data on road accidents. Kriti Nath Jha Governance Today had a conversation with Dr. Rohit Baluja about his drive to make traffic work in an orderly manner on cities’ roads with firm but users-friendly norms and legislation.
Q: How do you view the code of practice for design of urban roads to suit the changing urban context and particularly in the era of digital transportation?
A: Transportation still in the next two decades will be on the road. Transportation itself in any way can’t get digital as digital is a means of transportation. The basis of the transport remains the same, but change based upon types of vehicles, types of the road has to have with the code of practice.
Q: In a recent survey conducted by the Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE) that titled “Resolving the Crisis of Traffic Management” has revealed startling facts relating to road infrastructure including traffic lights, signs and marking in Delhi. So, you think it should be a wakeup call for the government and
concerned agencies related to road engineering and planning to rise to the occasion?
A: First and foremost road construction is done and for creating a proper traffic environment traffic engineering works to occur that match the need of the road. Geometrics, road safety signage, marking, signals and pedestrian movements all have to have a standard that gives powers to road authorities to enforce traffic regulations for the road users with warning signs, information and regulation of traffic as per IRC and UN convention norms. As we found in our study recently that 70 percent of signals in Delhi were not working. The road safety signs based upon standard legislation were lacking and even many of them were faulty signage.
Q: How the proposed Motor vehicle amendment bill 2016 is going to rectify the deficiencies of traffic control devices and change the overall traffic management scenario, especially all across the
megacities that report the highest number of deaths in road accidents?
A: The proposed Motor vehicle legislation will be putting a heavy penalty on violations. If the violations are willful then the violators will have to pay more, but in case of the deficiencies of the road environment then the violations are caused by faulty marking and signage by the concerned agencies. So, the responsibilities to create sustainable road environment totally lies with the road authorities and traffic control devices in place to be the prime goal to prevent traffic violations.
Q: India is a signatory to UN Decade of Action for reducing road accident deaths by 50 % by the year 2020. But given the prevailing situation like the rash and negligent driving, over-speeding, and utter disregard for traffic rules on the roads in our country, isn’t it an uphill task to meet?
A: The initiatives in this direction were taken in 2010 with over 100 countries signatory to the UN Decade of Action. But it’s rather a political commitment and political will could move it in
the right direction. Above all, there should be the realistic and scientific approach to deal with the prevailing situation regarding traffic movement taking on board all the stakeholders to ensure road safety and for a conducive and secure traffic environment.
Q: Do you think that the Interceptor, which was developed by IRTE as a comprehensive enforcement and education system, has been proved as a deterrent for the speedsters?
A: Interceptor is a comprehensive system that records traffic violations and also records the deficiencies of the road environment. The road authorities to repair potholes and
rectify faulty signals and road designs on time. Vehicles that weave in and out of traffic are a bigger hazard than fast-moving-but-disciplined ones. Also, what speed is ‘dangerous’ depends
on many factors, including the width of the road, whether it is straight or curved, whether there are intersecting roads and so on. What we need, therefore, are reasonable speed limits
combined with strict enforcement of all traffic rules. A limit of 80kmph on clear wide stretches even within cities is not unreasonable, while there might be other areas – in front of schools
or hospitals, for example – where the limit could be much lower. On highways, on the other hand, 120kmph seems sensible.
Q: How do you assess the initiative of IRTE as setting up the first Collision Investigation & Research Cell (CIRC) at Delhi to scientifically investigate the causes and consequences of road accidents/ collisions so as to work out remedial measures and improved road safety?
A: At present, investigations into road accidents are not done in a scientifically way as collecting or collating factual data and further analyzing them further for the exact and precise cause of the accidents and their consequences. And based upon them remedial measures could be taken. IRTE has developed 19 courses for the training of traffic police personnel to make them unable to do the investigation on the scientific and analytical pattern.
Q: You have introduced a module and methodology, to teach Road Safety Education through the existing curriculum subjects. How has it gone so far to make the student aware of the hazards of the road as well as to develop an attitude of defensive road usage amongst them?
A: As seniors have failed to make road traffic safe and secure, they now want to children do this task. The CBSE curriculum prepared with the help of IRTE will educate the teachers with
systems and supports through an interactive training system, and impart the thirteen objectives through already existing curriculum subjects including Geography, Chemistry, Physics,
Mathematics, Language, Art, and Craft, etc. Interestingly, existing curriculum subjects, somewhere or the other, support all aspects concerning road usage and safety. So, it’s basically an