Mr Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, Govt of India said that road safety is a public health issue across the world and has become a challenge for all developing and low-income countries like India. “It is, therefore, imperative to make our roads, vehicles, and infrastructure smarter to accommodate all its users, with safety as a top priority,” he added.
Addressing the webinar on ‘Role of Corporates in Arresting Road Fatalities’, organized by FICCI, Mr Gadkari said that the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH)’s Road Safety Council will come into existence in the next 15 days or so as an independent body, which will make interactions between stakeholders of road safety and the government much easier.
“MoRTH is trying its best to reduce road accident deaths by restructuring and strengthening the 4-Es of road safety- Engineering, both road and automobile engineering; Enforcement towards making improved traffic systems, a law has been passed to that effect; Education and public awareness; and Emergency Care Services where cooperation between corporates, NGOs, governments is of utmost importance,” said Mr Gadkari.
Mr Garkari further elaborated on the importance of the identification of black spots in every state, district, and city in helping reduce road accidents and fatalities. “If corporates can independently conduct surveys to identify the reasons for accidents, many of the problem areas can be rectified. This will greatly contribute towards the vision of zero road accidents in India too,” he noted.
The government system cannot solely change the challenges and issues that we face at the grassroots level for implementation. Corporates are well-organized stakeholders and can hence play a vital role in sensitizing and educating their employees and the ecosystem, said Mr Gadkari.
Lauding FICCI’s various efforts on improving road safety in the country, the Minister added that awareness and education on road safety at all levels, stronger personal commitment, public-private collaboration, and continuous efforts will help in reducing accidents on Indian roads and improve road safety.
The FICCI Consortium on Road-Safety with corporates, SAFAR – Safer Actions for Accident Reduction, was announced at the event. This consortium primarily focuses on a comprehensive approach to free India from all avoidable crashes, fatalities and serious injuries based on learnings from the Safe System Approach. Similar strategies have helped countries like Sweden implementing many far-reaching and path-breaking decisions, on the path to zero road fatalities, including reassessing their priorities in transport planning and road design. The initiative will focus on safe vehicles and safe infrastructure aspects of the road safety ecosystem.
The Minister also released the FICCI White Paper on Road Safety that highlights the fundamental need to move beyond a traditional approach to road safety and suggests the adoption of a multifaceted Safe System’s approach. The paper elaborates on the basic premise of this approach, which is that human error is inevitable, but traffic fatalities and serious injuries are not. Further, the paper delves into the potential of innovation and technology to aid road safety efforts in India, with a focus on safe roads and roadsides, safe vehicles, safe users, and safe speeds.
Ms Nivruti Rai, Country Head & VP, Data Centre Group, Intel Corporation said that technology is a cheap way to address the issue of road safety. “Technology itself is lifeless unless it is used to save lives and livelihoods of people. The government and industry partners have been working together in solving issues of infrastructure and training,” she said.
Ms Rai further said that we do not need autonomous driving; what we need is a collision-avoidance system in the country. “Collision-avoidance is the way to reducing the number of deaths that we see and experience,” she added.
Mr Ramashankar Pandey, Chair, FICCI Sub-Committee on Road Safety noted that FICCI intends to work assiduously in achieving the motive of creating awareness among people about the need and essence of road safety. “We will very soon announce the Call for Entries for the next edition of FICCI Road Safety Awards,” he said.
FICCI through its Road Safety Sub-Committee will continue to work with MoRTH and put in concerted efforts with the government in reducing the road accidents and steer the country towards safer roads and better infrastructure, he added.
Mr Sanjeev Mantri, Member, FICCI Road Safety Sub-Committee, and Executive Director, ICICI Lombard General Insurance Co Ltd said that the FICCI white paper on accident reduction is an important milestone. “The document has a clear direction in terms of how we can go about reducing road accidents in India. Vision Zero rightly puts forward the need for coordinated strategy based on the mechanism of coordinated efforts by all stakeholders,” he said.