#RIP #GopiNathMunde : Lets Pledge to Make Indian Roads Safer
Mr. Gopi Nath Mude won the parliamentary election from Beed in Maharashtra recently and joined the newly elected Government of India as Cabinet Minister for Rural Development. It was the second time he won the Loksabha election, previously he had won the election for state assembly 5 times – he had the distinction of never losing an election thr0ughout his political career which started off during his College days. He was Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra for 4 years from 1995 to 1999 and being the most influential BPJ leader in Maharashtra, was supposed to lead the party in the forth coming state elections later this year. But God had mysterious ways, no matter what we do, it is good to remember that human life is highly unpredictable. Earlier this moring, around 6;30am in New Delhi, Mr. Munde was travelling to Delhi Airport in his Suzuki SX4 car, to catch a flight and to reach his constituency Beed in Maharashtra for a Public celebration function today when an overspeeding Tata Indica car rammed in from a wrong direction. There were no external injuries but the brain suffered severe internal trauma followed by what the doctors are now saying fatal Cardiac Arrest. He was already dead by the time they were able to take him to the hospital nearby.
If not such a tall public figure, Mr. Munde would have been just another addition to the list of so many unfortunate and untimely deaths on the India road. More than 2,31,000 people die every year in road accidents in India. The Global Status report on Road Safety 2013 estimated that almost half of thse deaths are of the vulnerable road users – motorcyclists, pedestrians and cyclists. While the highes number of road accident in the world occur in USA world, in terms of fatality/ deaths on the road India is ranked No.1, highlighting the poor car safety and availbility of post accident swift medical facilities.
- 4.7 million km – India’s road network – 2nds largest road network in the world after the United States of America
- 35 accidents per 1000 vehicles
- 1 serious road accident occurs every minute in India
- 1 person dies in a road traffic accident every 4 minutes in India
- 20% of those killed on the roads are under the age of 15
- 20 – 40 age group of drivers mainly involved in road crashes
- 3% of India’s GDP is wasted due to road accidents
While the Automobile sector boomed in India in the last 2 decades, the infrastructure has not been able to keep pace – the roads network is not geared up for the high number of cars rolling out of the showroom every month. In the pre-liberalization days (before 1993) there were only 3 car manufacturers in India, making 1 – 2 models each – one can only see the Ambasador or a Fiat or the Maruti Suzuki. Today, all major car manufacturers of the world are selling their cars in India – a majority of them have local manufacturing facilities as well. High-speed vehicles sharing the road space with vulnerable road users on the unsafe road infrastructure and then there are old vehicles that are in poor condition – all contribute to the high fatality rates seen on India’s roads. The WHO’s Global Status Report on Road Safety identified the major causes of traffic collisions in India as ‘Driving over the speed limit, ‘Driving under the influence, and ‘Not using helmets and seat belts. Failure to maintain lane or yield to oncoming traffic when turning are prime causes of accidents on four lane, non-access controlled National Highways. The report noted users of motorcycles and motor-powered three-wheelers which are mainly used as public transport vehicle constitute the second largest group of traffic collision deaths.
What is to be Done
There is a lot which needs to be done , but the first and foremost is a personal pledge by each one of us – Safe Drive To Stay Alive…
Its is a very unfortunate moment for the family and friends of Mr. Gopi Nath Munde, and we must pray for the strength for them to get through this tough phase in life. But most importantly, we must initiate a program in the name of Mr. Gopi Nath Munde to change the road safety situation as it exist in India today. There is a lot that can be done, and the new government in India must take it up as a critical project immediatley. Lets make the memory of Mr. Gopi Nath Munde everlasting by saving the lives in the future road accidents.
There is already a movement started in India towards the road safety by dedicating the decade between 2011 – 2021 as the Decade of Action for Road Safety. Recently Supreme Court of India has appointed a 3 member team to monitor implementation of road safety measures, including emergency medical help to accident victims in India. Supreme Court asked the government to improve medical facilities and make them available on all national highways and roads under state governments. The Team will be headed by Justice KS Radhakrishnan will have former secretary, ministry of surface transport, S Sundar and former Head of Department of Traffic Engineering and Safety Nishi Mittal as members.The court directed all state governments and various central ministries involved in various road safety issues to submit their first report to the committee in three months indicating the state of implementation of all laws pertaining to licensing, certification of fitness of vehicles, passenger/weight carrying capacity, use of road safety devices, adherence to road user norms add deployment of adequate manpower for enforcement of existing provisions of law. Making it clear that it intended to monitor the implementation of road safety measures, the bench made all states parties to the case. The first report will be submittecd by this Road Safety Team to the Supreme Court within next three months, after receiving inputs from various states and the Centre, and indicate their views on the necessity of further change in the law. The court also asked the committee to undertake a detailed scrutiny of the reports received from states and the Centre and point out deficiencies on the part of various stakeholders. The court will further take up the matter in October 2014.
2010-2021: Decade of Action for Road Safety
- Road Safety Management: Strengthen institutional capacity to further national road safety efforts.
- Safer Roads & Mobility: Improve the safety of road networks for the benefit of all road users
- Safer Vehicles: Improve vehicle safety byencouraging harmonization of relevant global standards and Mechanisms.
- Safer Road Users: Develop comprehensive programmes to improve road user behaviour
- Post Accident Response: Improve health and other systems to provide appropriate emergency treatment and longer-term rehabilitation for crash victims.