- The institute made recommendations based on road geometry & traffic characteristics
- The fatalities in road accidents have increased by 1.3%
- Initiate Audit of existing speed management measures, study of accidents and speed monitoring
India has always been on the edge when it comes to road safety and speed management. Even with new policy reforms and measures to curb road accident, a total of 3,66,138 road accidents caused the loss of 1,31,714 lives in 2020 as per the statistics of Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH). 1.2 lakh deaths were reported by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for the same year as death caused by accidents. The persistently high annual death toll brings into question the country’s ability to meet Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.6, which aims to halve the fatalities and injuries from road traffic accidents by 2030. Despite Covid-induced restrictions, on-road travel accident severity value i.e. persons killed per 100 accidents was 36 in 2020, up from 33.7 in 2019.
Researchers from IIT Kharagpur has recently submitted recommendations for scientific and uniform nationwide speed management to reduce fatal road accidents to the West Bengal government. It has accepted the suggestions in principle but there is a need for nationwide and uniform implementation. In its policy document, IIT Kharagpur recommended the constitution of state and district road safety councils comprising of various departments regarding scientific fixing of speed limits and erection of road signage, engineering initiatives, audit of existing speed management measures, study of accidents, speed monitoring, strict implementation of guidelines and mass public awareness about road safety.
Professor Bhargab Maitra, Civil Engineering Department, IIT Kharagpur who led a team of professors in formulating the document said, “We have made the recommendations based on road geometry, traffic characteristics and roadside environment. Although there are several Indian Roads Congress (IRC) guidelines which may be followed for better traffic management, the lack of a comprehensive and uniform speed management policy is an important concern in the Indian context.”
“In 2021, MoRTH proposed a reduction of road accidents and fatalities by 50 per cent by 2024. Speed management may provide the scope of bringing down the severity of road accidents. Keeping in mind the reality of traffic on Indian roads, it is essential to revisit and set appropriate speed limits to enhance road safety,” he added.
Times Of India
The document submitted by the Institute observed that a majority of the road stretches in the country, both in urban and rural areas, have mixed traffic, absence of lane discipline, uncontrolled access, roadside development and activities and a significant share of vulnerable road users.
Quoting the statistics of MoRTH, Prof. Maitra said, “Speeding caused more than 72 per cent of road accidents and 69 per cent of road accident fatalities in 2020. Also, there is a need to curb speed limits near potentially risky areas such as shopping zones, schools and hospitals. Only a few stretches have wide paved shoulders, median barriers, sufficient clear zones, access roads, good alignment and intersection treatments which are important engineering aspects to ensure road safety.
New global and country-level estimates suggest that routinely wearing helmets and seat belts, obeying speed limits, and avoiding driving drunk could save between 347,000 and 540,000 lives worldwide every year, said a study published in The Lancet.
“Road accidents are a leading cause of death and injuries in India, which tops the world in the number of fatalities due to such mishaps. 4.5 lakh road accidents took place in 2019, resulting in more than 1.51 lakh deaths. Besides creating enormous social causes for families, road traffic injuries put a heavy burden on health services and the national economy. Keeping in mind the reality of traffic on Indian roads, it is essential to revisit and set appropriate speed limits to enhance road safety. Hence, the implementation of IIT Kharagpur’s recommendations will be beneficial with the ongoing massive road development across the country.” he stated.
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