This blog will discuss some of the valuable inputs I received in the Safety-Beyond Talk that I attended last week. Hosted by Sanmadhur and moderated by Wg Cdr Rakesh Kumar Prashar, the talk had Pankaj Singh, a renowned road-safety speaker, and Pooja Bajaj, a TEDx speaker, and a life-threatening accident survivor, as guest speakers. In their talk series, Sanmadhur seeks to inspire and help us understand and lead the transformation via best practices in developing a robust and resilient safety culture for our workforce and communities' long-term well-being.
Need for Road Safety
According to WHO, 11% of the global death rate due to road accidents is in India. In fact, India is the leading country when it comes to road accidents. The total amount of deaths in India due to Natural Disasters for the last decade equates to the total number of deaths that occur in one year due to road accidents. Over 400 people lose their lives every day due to road accidents.
Over 3% of the global GDC goes to road accidents, and over 1% of GDC in India goes to such accidents. This excludes the indirect effects and costs that occur due to loss of productivity and working days, and the emotional cost is a whole another aspect. Unofficially, 2020 saw the least road accident deaths of 1,32,000, the lowest in the last eleven years. This is hugely due to the pandemic situation and lockdowns.
Most people in India, or any other developing country, believe that road accidents are an act of destiny that cannot be helped. They believe accidents solely depend on our luck. If you got into an accident today, it must be due to your bad luck, right? But Pankaj Singh very rightfully states that while Surviving a road accident could be considered an act of destiny, the road accident in itself is an act of science. Rather than blaming the government for raising penalties or focusing on the status of the road, it is prudent to be self-aware and take ownership while driving. Our behavior while driving is the most crucial aspect of our safety on the road. Take ownership rather than living it up to fate.
It's noticed that most organizations do not take ownership of the employees while they are on the road from home to office and vice versa. Taking ownership by the individuals as well as the employers is a key to ensuring road safety.
Need for Formal Training
While Pooja Bajaj, an avid motorist herself, suggests that whether you are getting a new bike or a car, first start small and ensure you receive proper training rather than depending on friends and relatives to be your default coach. Pankaj gives an example that attests to this. In one of his training programs, a truck driver with over eighteen years of experience in the field was flabbergasted and informed that "He had been driving all this while, but only today (after the training session) he LEARNT how to drive". It was also noticed that over twelve percent of 31,000 experienced drivers with at least a decade of experience failed the first assessment test in the training. This enforces the need for formal training that is usually neglected or not given any focus.
The government may raise penalties and make stricter rules but adhering to these rules while focusing on changing our driving behavior is the only way to ensure driving safety. In fact, driver error is the most prominent cause of road accidents.
The three aspects that affect and cause road accidents
- Environment and Surroundings
There are more incidents in the United States than in other developing countries, but the death rates are significantly lower. So, yes, the environment in developing countries, with other peripherals such as the crowd or streets, contribute significantly to the cause of road accidents, which makes it even more prudent to follow an effective driving safety program. Because even if the roads are bad or the vehicle is not up to make, a skilled driver would be able to maneuver and ensure safety.
On a side note, the number one reason for road accidents in the US is now mobile usage rather than the previous drunken driving behavior. It signifies that distracted driving due to mobile usage is a critical issue.
People tend to think that road safety with the usage of helmets and seat belts is an act of enforcement but not of value. Even I have sometimes thought, ah, the store is right here, let's skip the helmet or seat belt. It's a candid and natural thought, but a slip-second decision could be fatal. This cannot be blamed on fate or destiny; it is a conscious decision an individual takes to bypass safety protocols for convenience. Driveway accidents are yet another reason for accidents because of that. People in parking areas with kids running around and cars speeding might get careless.
Four A’s of Road Safety
1. Awareness- Being aware of the roads and surroundings
2. Anticipation- Be prepared for any interference while driving
3. Attention- Give your 100% focus on the road while driving
4. Attitude- Lastly, have a positive attitude
Reward-based Driving Safety Program
Another notable and commendable practice that Pankaj talked about is how he rewards his 8 years old (who has been keen on ensuring car safety protocols for the last 4 years) every time he ensures everyone is wearing a seat belt any time he is in a car. This has encouraged his son to be more cautious while in a car and helped others' safety as well. This reward-based Driver Safety System will enormously benefit enterprises that want to keep their employees on their toes.
In addition, it should be noted that most road accidents occur in the First 10% and last 10% of a journey which indicates taking regular breaks and not driving while tired as another self-conscious act that shows that a skilled, informed, as well as a well-rested driver, is a better driver.
How does technology contribute to Road Safety?
Technology is helping us in all the three aspects that we previously discussed. Our roads have never been better, our vehicles have never been more advanced, but the Drivers are the one facet that still has much room for improvement. But no worries, technology and AI are so advanced now that you can track your own driving activity in the palm of your hand. While listening to another person comment on our driving might be hard to accept and easy to ignore, utilizing an AI-based application will be the key to helping you track your behavior and improve your driving safety on your own. Follow the link to learn more about the driving safety app.
While I absorbed many more things from the talk (I would probably need another blog to cover the whole thing), these are some of the notable things that I think will help individuals and enterprises with an extensive fleet management system. Ensuring your as well as others' safety on the road is your responsibility. Take ownership and stay safe!