National Road Safety Week (11th to 17th January 2020) is being observed throughout India to create awareness among general public and specially amongst the youth to improve the safety on road and give an opportunity to all stakeholders to contribute to the cause of road safety.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH), Government of India with National Safety Council (NSC) working in the field of safety, health and environment, issued a public notice stating “Looking into the magnitude and gravity of the problems in road safety, there is a need for the society at large to take cognizance of the issue and to join hands to make road safety a social movement. We appeal its members and patrons to observe Road Safety Week 2020 by undertaking various activities for promoting the road safety”.
On 13th January 2020, at the Road Safety Stakeholders meet in New Delhi, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari launched Integrated Road Accident Database (IRAD), a robust road accident database management system developed and being implemented with the help of IIT Madras, NIC and supported by World bank. This will enable the states and centre to comprehend the information related to road accidents, analyze the root cause of road accidents and to develop and implement ‘data-led’ road safety interventions to reduce the accidents, as published in the press release.
In Mumbai, the 31st National Road Safety Week kicked off with a Cycle Rally on 12th January. The Cycle rally was organised by Mumbai Traffic Police and Smart Commute Foundation with support from Indian Oil, Hero Lectro Cycles, Mahindra Holidays, Endurance Sports Gear and Cycling Clubs in Mumbai. The cycle rally was flagged off at 08:00 am from NCPA and finished at Shivaji Park, Dadar. Participants were given certificates by Mumbai Traffic Police for extending support for this social awareness campaign. The core theme of this cycle rally was ‘SADAK SURAKSHA JEEVAN RAKSHA’ which means ROAD SAFETY FOR LIFE SAFETY and ‘SHARE THE ROAD’ to mitigate modal conflicts and bring sanctity amongst all road users.
Earlier, Jt. C.P. Madhukar Pandey conducted a meeting with various NGO’s, Social activists and his team to plan day wise programs and activities. A week long road safety awareness campaign has multiple online and on-ground interventions like Women’s Two wheeler motorcycle rally, Walkathon, Social Sanchaar – an interactive talk with the Jt. C.P, Essay writing and drawing competition across various schools, RSP band performance by college students, Free Helmet distribution and Twitter campaign by RTO Mumbai and its outreach partners.
Now looking at some statistics, a report released by World Health Organisation ‘Global Status Report on Road Safety 2018’ reveals “1.35 million road traffic deaths occur in the world every year, 54% of which are pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists”. It further adds “low-income countries account for 1% of world vehicles but register 13% of road traffic deaths whereas high-income countries own 40% of worlds vehicles but have a lower death rate of 7% because of road accidents. Children aged 5-14 years and young adults aged 15-29 are the most affected with road traffic injuries” the study says.
Road Safety is a major concern in India as we observe a rising trend in number of road fatalities. Compared to developed countries, pedestrians and cyclists in India are the most vulnerable road users and face injuries and death due to imperfect and incompetent driving.
The Research wing of Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in its annual study ‘Road accidents in India 2018’ mentions “India, unfortunately ranks at the top with highest number of fatalities with about 11% of share in the world. The total number of accident related deaths in 2018 stood at 1,51,417 indicate an increase of 2.3% over the figures of 2017. About 85% of the accident related deaths happen in the most productive age group of 18-60. Road accidents deaths not only cause severe trauma to the family of the victim but they also result in huge economic loss to the Nation”.
Key Findings of the 2018 MORTH Study:
- India ranks 1st in the number of road accident deaths across the 199 countries reported in the World Road Statistics, 2018 followed by China and US.
- A total of 4,67,044 road accidents have been reported by States and Union Territories in the calendar year 2018, claiming 1,51,417 lives.
- In terms of accident related killings by type of road user, the number of Pedestrians killed accounted for 15%, the share of cyclists was 2.4% and that of Two wheelers was 36.5%. Together these categories explain 53.9% of the accident related killings and are the most vulnerable category quite in line with global trends.
- Young adults in the age group of 18 – 45 years accounted for 70% of road accident victims.
- 3673 bicycle users fell victim to road accidents in 2018 compared to 3559 in 2017 (+3.2%).
Back to the Road Safety Cycle Rally, four cycles were given a shape of cars with messages #ShareTheRoad #NoFuel #SmartCommute #RespectTheCyclists #Cycle2Work #RightToRide #TrueHeroes #DriveResponsibly #SadakSurakshaJeevanRaksha. The car cut-out activation is 1st of its kind done in India. Smart Commute had executed this concept even during last year’s road safety campaign but this year it was merged with the cycle rally.
Few participants turned up uniquely dressed while many others were in cycling suits. Being a Sunday morning, a huge crowd had gathered at the start point of the rally. The sudden gathering of crowd can be attributed to preparation of Tata Mumbai Marathon, Asia’s largest running event which is scheduled for 19th January and Practice Parade by Naval Band for the Republic Day Ceremony on 26th January. Both of these are high profile events and many citizens visit Marine Drive to watch them in action.
More than 30 Police Personals were present some of whom were of Senior Rank with support vehicles, photographers and videographers. I was piloting a car cut-out and felt like a celebrity at the start point as too many people had surrounded with their cameras.
A little over 150 cyclists had registered online for the event however not everybody turned up for the rally. But there were few cyclists who decided to join the rally on spot in the morning. Surprisingly, some cyclists didn’t complete the route and diverted midway. It’s a typical behaviour I have observed in many events. The road safety cycle rally was a good opportunity for the cycling community to unite and show the strength in numbers. It was the right platform for the cycling clubs to engage with the Traffic Police and may be submit their concerns in writing, but none of such proactive measures were taken. In my view, if cyclists don’t participate in road safety campaigns and work closely with the authorities, in such a case we lose our right to complain.
To end this blog in a positive note, am sharing this quote …
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.
Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
Cycle More, Cycle Safe and enjoy this photo album:
Thanks to Endurance Sports Gear who distributed complimentary arm sleeves with a reflective #Cycle2Work to the cyclists. No plastic packaging was used, the sports gear manufacturer Darshan Dave made meticulous efforts to tie each pair with a green ribbon – a color synonymous with environment. For customized cycle merchandise, you can reach out to him, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai