The 3 Es of Road Safety: Education, Engineering & Law Enforcement
The three important E’s of road safety are Education, Engineering and Enforcement.
As of 2020, India, unfortunately, still ranks high in terms of sheer number of road accidents. As per the latest report by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), the country witnessed almost 1.5 lakh road accident deaths, which cost the nation almost 3-5% of its GDP.
To device better and safer road engineering and more effective legislation, improve vehicular safety standards, and generate public awareness, the MoRTH has recognised three E’s, namely: education, engineering and enforcement of law and legislation. Road safety is a multidisciplinary profession, where public-private partnerships bring best results. These include professionals with engineering, public health, public safety, education among the many other disciplines that could be involved. Here’s how the 3 E’s work in road safety:
The Indian government has run multiple Road Safety Campaigns in the past one decade via different forms of media- TV spots, radio spots, display of cinema slides, distribution of posters, books on road safety signage & signs; as well as has organised annual Road Safety Week, seminars and exhibitions with the view to raise road safety awareness among the general public.
In addition to this, the government has multiple ongoing public-private partnerships (PPP) looking after the road safety education needs of the country. One such successful PPP is the Safer Roads for Gurugram (SRFG) initiative led by AB InBev launched in 2018.
SRFG brought together government, industry associations, academia, research, NGOs and corporates to tackle road safety in India with an initial focus on Gurugram.
Under this initiative, United Nations Institute of Training and Research (UNITAR) developed an e-learning module, which was launched by Dr. Shashi Tharoor, Congress MP at the Safer Roads for Safer Lives event organised by SRFG and The Quint. The e-learning course aims to raise awareness and build capacity among the youth to be safer road user champions. It sheds light on the importance of road safety measures and provides core skill sets and knowledge on safer road behaviours. It also explores different ways to help combat road traffic injuries and death. You can read more on it here.
On December 3, SRFG hosted the 'SaferRoadsforSaferLives’ initiative in association with The Quint. The Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari launched a road safety data dashboard for the city of Gurugram at the event. The dashboard by SRFG has been designed to help decode the accidents data on the roads of Haryana. You can read more about the dashboard here.
Certain engineering measures are considered essential for adoption to improve road safety - geometry of the road, separation of local traffic, pedestrian facility, etc which are identified through regular Road Safety audits. Research becomes impertinent to outline the characteristics of roads based on traffic volumes and densities that contribute to road deaths. It is essential to identify hazardous locations, high-risk areas and crash locations to design safer roads.
Last year, CSIR-Central Road Research Institute conducted a Road Safety audit in Gurugram, Haryana under the SRFG initiative. The team visited spots like IFFCO Chowk, DLF Cyber City chowk intersection, Rajiv Chowk intersection, etc. and recommended relevant safety measures in both, immediate and long-term basis. You can read further on the report here.
Enforcement of Laws and Legislations
The five main behaviours most likely to result in road traffic injuries are rash driving, not using a helmet, a seat-belt or child restraint, and over-speeding. Although many countries have laws that address these risky behaviours, they may not be fully enforced.
In fact, road rules will only be obeyed if people believe that not obeying them will result in unwanted outcomes like fines or license cancellation. The perceived likelihood of being caught and penalized for disobeying road rules should be high. Also, the penalties should be large enough to discourage people from disobeying the rules. Keeping this in mind, the Parliament passed the amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act which came into effect from September 1, 2019.
New penalties were prescribed for carrying of excess passengers, failure to use safety belt and violation of rules in seating of children, violation of safety measures for motor cycle drivers and pillion riders, refusal to stop and submit vehicle for weighing, use of phones in silent zones and failure to allow free passage to emergency vehicles. The effects on road safety are yet to be calculated, but comprehensive road safety rules and legislation, which incorporate evidence-based measures and strict and appropriate penalties, backed by consistent, sustained enforcement and public education—has been proven to reduce road traffic injuries and fatalities.
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