Rajasthan may create separate budget for road safety measures

The Hindu, March 08, 2008

The Rajasthan Government is looking into a proposal to create a separate budget for road safety measures. The State’s Finance Department has agreed on principle to set aside the composition money worth Rs.50 crore recovered as challans for procurement of basic road safety equipment.

Talking about stricter road safety and traffic norms in the days ahead, State Transport Commissioner Jagdish Chandra said any person found driving without licence could be put behind the bars under Sections 3 & 5 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, for three months. “We should make imprisonment compulsory for at least 15 days” he said speaking at the launch of a project, “Traffic-calming strategies ensuring pedestrian safety” here this week. Consumer NGO, CUTS International, in collaboration with Lund University, Sweden, and Swedish agency SIDA is implementing the project. The study aims at highlighting major flaws in the design of Indian roads and develop a manual, first of its kind in India. The manual will contain recommendations on “remedial traffic-calming strategies” for policy makers. Under this project, 24 sites in six locations will be taken up for detailed investigation of road accidents involving pedestrians.

Perhaps it was not the roads but the attitude. “There is no more possibility of improving the roads further. We have already widened the roads up to the broadest limits and now we need some other alternatives to overcome road safety problems and check speed of vehicles. By improving the road surface quality and building flyovers we are allowing people to drive at higher speeds which result in higher rate of accidents,” said Kumar Indu Bhushan, Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Traffic.

Christer Hyden from Lund University, Sweden, Dinesh Mohan and Geetam Tiwari from Transportation Research and Injury Prevention Programme, IIT-Delhi, put the project in a global perspective. The data from a recent study from IIT-Delhi showed that Jaipur reported the third highest number of road accidents in India, they noted.

Giving a clear picture of road users, Prof. Tiwari, said, “The major responsibility of providing physical facilities that encourage pedestrian travel and help protect the pedestrian resides with traffic engineers. The psychology of pedestrian has also to be kept in mind before designing a new system.”

Prof. Hyden mentioned that proper implementation of traffic-calming strategies had reduced fatal accidents by 50 per cent and serious injuries by 70 per cent in Sweden within ten years.