Bikes, cars, rickshaws, cycles, and pedestrians - Do you know what these things have in common? They all share the same space i.e. the road. A road is a dangerous place and even the smallest mistakes there can lead to a lifetime of regret. With a little bit of road safety awareness and collaborative action, we can put an end to this menace and the unfortunate loss of lives on the road.
Before we divulge into the nitty gritty details of the topic, let us first understand what the term ‘Road Safety’ entails.
Defining Road Safety
You may have heard this word in the passing or may feel that it is quite self-explanatory but it is always advisable to have a comprehensive understanding of the concept.
Road safety includes the practices and measures that intend to prevent accidents and injuries on the road. It involves a wide range of activities, such as traffic management, vehicle design, and driving behavior, all of which aim to reduce the risk of accidents, their severity, and the loss of lives. Road Safety encompasses several key components such as wearing seatbelts and helmets, obeying traffic laws and speed limits, maintaining vehicles in good condition, and avoiding distractions while driving. Road safety is essential for safeguarding the lives and well-being of motorists, passengers, and pedestrians, and is a critical concern for communities and governments worldwide. Understanding road safety's importance and creating road safety awareness are also integral elements of road safety.
Road Safety as a National Priority
Now that you know how vital road safety is, can you take a second to think about the correlation between the progress or development of a nation and road safety?
Even though this particular combination is not always in the limelight, it is high time that the Government gives road safety its due importance. Ensuring road safety for their citizens should be a top priority for the Government and yet in most instances, authorities fail to realize its pertinence and take necessary steps.
With this blog we will start a discussion on the importance of road safety and why it should be a primary concern for any Government.
- Economic Loss - Road Accidents are a huge economic burden to a nation. It can cause significant financial losses that put a strain on the economy. The economic impact of road accidents includes costs related to medical expenses, property damage, and lost productivity. As a result, it hampers the GDP as well. The data from WHO’s Road Safety Toolkit reveals ‘The economic consequences of road crashes are estimated to be between 2% and 7% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of countries around the world, with a total in excess of $2 trillion a year.’ In addition, constant occurrences of road accidents may deter foreign investments and tourism, which further puts a dent in the nation’s economy.
- Loss of Lives and Human Captial - There is no nation without the citizens. A Government is in place to ensure that the citizens live a happy and secure life. And, road accidents pose a threat to those very lives. The ultimate cost of road accidents is the loss of lives. This simple fact should be enough to drive the Government to take proactive measures to prevent such unfortunate incidents. Moreover, accidents also leave people severely injured and disabled which drastically lowers their quality of life. If we look at the same individuals from an economic standpoint, they are human capital capable of contributing to the development of the nation based on their skill sets.
- Determent of Development - Overall well-being of the citizens is an important factor that determines the path of development of a nation. Poor road safety not only results in loss of lives but also hampers development. When roads are not safe, it becomes a challenge for individuals to travel to their place of work or access healthcare, education, and other essential services. This can lead to poor outcomes for a nation's economy, social development, and overall well-being. Furthermore, it creates a negative image of the nation in the global landscape. Moreover, achieving road safety is an inherent need for sustainable development.
These reasons justify the demand for the Government to pay attention to the cause of road safety. Measures need to be put in place to curb road accidents and mitigate their economic and social impact. Resources should be equally and effectively allocated to address this issue.
Ambitious Goals Ahead
Given the gravity of the situation, global and national goals have been set to tackle this evil. The primary aim of such steps is to reduce the number of road accidents, create road safety awareness and reinstate the importance of road safety rules. Here are two of the most relevant initiatives and resolutions in the space of road safety.
- In September 2020, the UN General Assembly adopted a ‘resolution to improve road safety and proclaimed ‘the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030, with the ambitious target of preventing at least 50% of road traffic deaths and injuries by 2030.’ This global plan emphasizes a holistic approach to road safety and calls for ‘continued improvements in the design of roads and vehicles; enhancement of laws and law enforcement; and provision of timely, life-saving emergency care for the injured.’
- Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India, Mr. Nitin Gadkari has announced that India aims to reduce road traffic accidents by 50% by 2024. Mr. Gadkari has issued a call to all transport ministers and officials to urge them to work collaboratively toward this goal.
What do the Experts say?
India has two such ambitious goals ahead of her. But is she ready to take on this challenge? In the current milieu, road traffic safety and road safety awareness have been given some importance but there is still a long way ahead. Certain steps need to be taken by the Government to ensure that these goals are achieved. As India is starting her journey towards reducing road accident fatalities, India needs to gear up and prepare herself more. Along with the transport department of the ministry, other ministries also need to realize the pertinence of the cause and do their part to make the country’s vision a success.
Let us now look into what some prominent thought leaders in the domain of road safety opine -
Mr. Rama Shankar Pandey stresses the need to curate an action plan for the country in order to save lives as he posts on his LinkedIn -
Mr. Pankaj Singh in one of his recent posts posits thought-provoking questions as he highlights the sheer lack of discourse around road safety and limited proactive initiatives for road safety.
Ms. Pooja Bajaj encourages steps in the direction of road safety awareness as she states
Towards a Safer Tomorrow
Ordinary people can do extraordinary things if they set their minds to it.
As a country, it is time for us to pool resources and efforts, be it, citizens or ministers, in order to herald an India with safer roads and fewer road accidents.