Along with wearing masks, it is equally important to wear helmets to save lives on roads since road accidents are taking more lives than Covid-19: CUTS Webinar

Jaipur, October 06, 2020
India had taken lots of initiatives to enhance road safety in last one year. On September 1, 2019 new Motor Vehicle Amendment Act, 2019 came in force followed by immediate notification of the same in some states and later in most of the states. The new act came with several new road safety provisions as per need of the hour. On October, 01, 2020 Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 2020 also came in to force across India.  So in this backdrop for marking the first anniversary of the MVA Act, 2019 CUTS organised a webinar titled on One year of MVA Act, 2019: Learning from Pandemic and Way forward’ on October 06, 2020 online.

There is strong need of having a road safety day in India to bring the focus of all the stakeholders on the importance of road safety, said Pradeep S. Mehta, Secretary General CUTS International in the webinar. He further said that though the behavior of drivers in general is changing a bit after passage of the new act, due to the provision of hefty penalties, but there has be strict enforcement coupled with awareness and education to change behaviors of common road users. He added that India is losing around 3 pc of its GDP in road accidents, fatalities and injuries every year so he underlined the need of doing investment of at least 1 pc of the GDP for road safety purpose to improve the road infrastructure, enforcement and education of masses.

T. Elangovan, Executive Director Kerala Road Safety Authority, Govt. of Kerala said Kerala has been able to reduce deaths and accidents on roads up to 30 pc. Though in 10 states, during first six months of enactment, accidents rate came down by 10pc but in Kerala it increased by 4 pc. But later in first six months of 2020, Kerala shown good improvement was able to save around 1045 lives in comparison to last year. In Kerala, September 2019 to December 2019 time period was a hiccup period and more and more awareness was done which resulted in to 2 pc reductions in fatalities. In Jan. 2020 to March 2020 period, the enforcement was made effective and as a result there was 17pc reduction in the fatalities whereas during the April to May, 2020 lockdown period, around 90% reductions in fatalities happened. The reaming 10pc accidents were of the emergency vehicles, over speeding buses and ambulances only. During May to June, 2020 lockdown period 75% reduction in fatalities was reported. In unlock period, June to August 2020, 40pc fatalities were reduced in Kerala. In the post MVA Act, 2019 (Sept. 2019 to August 2020) one year period as well there is 30pc total reduction in fatalities. So far a total of more than 1000 lives have been saved and more than 12,000 injuries have been avoided so far in the state which saved lots of state resources which were used in handling Covid 19 pandemic. He further said that Kerala is far ahead of rest of the states in digital monitoring of traffic violations. He also shared the lessons learnt related to the functioning of the Road Safety Authority in Kerala.

Rajasthan Govt. has saved more than 1600 lives on roads in first six months of 2020 said by Dr. Amrita Duhan, Superintendent of Police (Head Quarters), Rajasthan Police, Govt. of Rajasthan. She said that the MVA Act, 2019 which was notified in Rajasthan on 8th July, 2020 was a logical move and a step forward for road safety which has several good provisions. She mentioned that Rajasthan Police run a 1.5 month long awareness drive on new act among road users which resulted in to reducing the fatalities and accidents coupled with the deterrent effect of the high penalty provisions of the new act. She added that during the endemic time enforcement of drink and drive was adversely affected due to high risk of Corona infections. She talked about the golden Hour application, iRAD support for data management and other digital initiatives for road safety and finally she said that there is need to create awareness in regards to Good Samaritan Law among the police, medical personnel also with public. In the process of creating Golden Hour work app.

George Cheriyan, Director, CUTS International said that in India now the stage is set for controlling the road accidents and fatalities since now new act and rules are under force.  He said that in India in 2019, 4, 37,396 accidents happened, 4, 29,262 people got injured and around 1, 54,7,32 people lost their lives. Out of total fatalities, 38 pc was involving two wheeler, 59.6pc of accidents were due to over speeding and 25.7pc were due to dangerous and careless driving. So far in India, during the first six months of 2020, there is 8pc reduction in accidents and deaths due to fear of enhanced penalty, resulting in saving 23,000 lives saved in comparison to the same period last year. Though half of this period, there was a lockdown. He said during the lockdown there should have been no accidents, but even than around 140 people were died and around 600 major accidents were reported. Out of these accidents 30% were involving migrants and 57% were due to over-speeding. He further added that the lock down guidelines was not having any reference of road safety. It is still being observed that people are wearing masks but no helmets. So there is strong need sensitizing the people to wear helmets because in India, more people are losing their lives in road accidents than due to Corona.

In the webinar, more than 50 participants from across the states, media representatives, govt. officials and civil society representatives participated.


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Madhu Sudan Sharma, Senior Programme Officer

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