Why Evidence-Based Research Is Imperative For Road Safety In India

Research helps outline the characteristics of roads based on traffic volumes that contribute to road deaths.

Published
India
3 min read
Ben Verhaert, President (South Asia), Anheuser-Busch InBev, at the Safer Roads for Safer Lives event on December 3.
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Road accidents, that cost India about 3-5% of gross domestic product every year, are avoidable if the country could improve its roads and city planning, train its drivers better, and enforce traffic laws properly, according to IndiaSpends.com.

Currently, as per the latest World Health Organisation reports, India accounts for over 11% of total global road traffic accidents (RTA). With the growing burden of RTAs in the country, there is an urgent need to develop strong road safety policies and plans that are evidence-based, which requires strong research inputs that reflect real, rather than perceived problems.

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. Information through good research is the building block for all these activities with strong, robust and quality data that can drive activities in future. Road safety research is required for multiple reasons:

1. Estimating the burden, risk factors, characteristics and impact of road traffic deaths and injuries;

2. Delineating areas that are at high risk;

3. Developing and/or strengthening/modifying existing road safety policies and programmes;

4. Promoting understanding of perceptions on road safety amongst different stakeholders;

5. Guiding planning, developing and implementing road safety activities/ programmes;

6. Providing long-term vision for development of road safety

In 2018, CSIR-Central Road Research Institute conducted a Road Safety audit in Gurugram, Haryana. This was done under the Safer Roads for Gurugram initiative led by Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), which brought together government, industry associations, academia, research, NGOs and corporates to tackle road safety in India with an initial focus on Gurugram.

The Minister of Road Transport and Highways, government of India, Nitin Gadkari with Ben Verhaert, President (South Asia), Anheuser-Busch InBev, at the launch of road safety data, dashboard for the city of Gurugram.
The Minister of Road Transport and Highways, government of India, Nitin Gadkari with Ben Verhaert, President (South Asia), Anheuser-Busch InBev, at the launch of road safety data, dashboard for the city of Gurugram.
(Photo source: The Quint)

SRFG’s dashboard, which was launched at the Safer Roads for Safer Lives event organised by Safer Roads for Gurugram and The Quint, accumulated data from First Information Reports (FIRs) collected by the Traffic Police of Haryana from 2016 to 2019. It can help identify key areas that need to be focused on to ensure road safety. The dashboard becomes a powerful tool to help achieve the goal of making our roads safer.

The CSIR-CRRI report 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. These included the following:

1. Providing good road surface (and infrastructure) and improving road hump designs

2. Improving all intersections

3. Install new visual aids - road appropriate signs, flashing signals, retro-reflective markers, delineators, chevron markings, chevron signs at curves and road markings such as lane marking, pavement marking, object marking, zebra crossings etc.

4. Strict enforcement is required by the Police agency to discourage the on-street parking

5. Remove redundant road signs and private signs

According to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways records, almost 1.5 lakh people die in road accidents in India every year. To curb this issue and strengthen road safety, good quality research is an essential prerequisite. With significant research, data and evidence, stakeholders can understand the pathology of road accidents and take steps in the right direction.

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