India has one of the highest rates of road fatalities in the world, with 137,576 deaths reported last year alone. The Supreme Court of India has called the issue of road crashes in India a ‘disaster’. The response then, to this disaster ‘must ensure a robust and accountable framework to enable and sustain road safety in India’ said Piyush Tewari, Founder and President of SaveLIFE Foundation, a grantee of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Road Safety Grants Programme campaigning for the passing of a comprehensive road safety law in India.
Following much work across sectors, on 15 September, 2014, the Indian Ministry of Road Transport and Highways made public the draft ‘Road Transport and Safety Bill, 2014’ for comments and suggestions… and its vision is bold. The Indian government is also driven to have the bill passed before the end of the year.
- ‘To provide a framework for safer, faster, cost effective and inclusive movement of passengers and freight in the country thus enabling the mission of ‘Make in India’’.
Its three core targets:
- To save 200,000 lives through reductions in traffic crashes
- To improve GDP by 4% on account of increased efficiency and safety of the road transport sector
- To create 1,000,000 jobs through increased investment in the sector
The key elements of the bill take best practice from high performing countries all over the world and seek to overhaul existing, fractured practices with a comprehensive and integrated approach. Perhaps the most important aspect is the intention to establish a dedicated, independent, legally empowered and fully functional agency, accountable to Parliament for vehicle regulation and road safety. The establishment of such a lead authority with legislative backing and adequate funding will facilitate collaboration from all stakeholders towards important national improvements such as unified motor vehicle regulation and registration, a unified driver licensing system, enhanced enforcement with increased penalties, greater focus on traffic management, public transport, infrastructure quality and a national freight policy.
This bill provides a clear, well researched and bold vision for reducing the burden of death and injury on India’s roads… we shall follow its progress with anticipation.