Safer roads in India begin with collaboration

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The Road Safety Conclave 2010, “Moving towards a Comprehensive and Integrated Approach”, was an important step taken by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to provide a national platform for achieving a coordinated approach to road safety.

Co-sponsored by GRSP, the Conclave was attended by more than 250 participants from the road industry, the government of India, non-governmental organizations, consulting firms, as well as private road developers and managers in August. The forum provided an opportunity to share various initiatives and exchange a wealth of ideas for improving road safety in India.

At a government level, Mr. R P N Singh, Honorable Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways (the Ministry) attended as guest of honour. He outlined many of the Ministry’s efforts to improve road safety including a national framework also known as the National Road Safety and Traffic Management Board Bill 2010, as well as the Road Safety Action Plan, which envisages several concrete initiatives on vehicle safety standards.

He outlined the priority of the Government to provide quick medical assistance with the recently developed National Highways Accident Relief Service Scheme. In collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Trauma Care Facilities will be provided along National Highways in the near future.

Other important initiatives for road safety in India include a Road Safety Cell set up by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). The objective is to strengthen road safety on national highways and assess reasons for road accidents. “NHAI has completed road safety audits on 2800 km of highways and is now in the process to have road audits done for another 5400 km of highways,” stated Mr. V L Patankar, NHAI member.

Mr. Atul Kumar, Chief General Manager of NHAI emphasized the value of the project, also sharing details of a new venture supported by the World Bank to appoint an international Road Safety Advisor.

At the same time, Mr. Vinayak Chatterjee, Chairman of Feedback Ventures Pvt. Ltd. and former chairman of CII National Council on Infrastructure, noted that national highways constitute merely 2 per cent of the total road network in India and hence the importance of wider consultation and discussion beyond national highways.

Many participants agreed that as road safety is a multi-disciplinary problem, it needs an integrated approach with the support of all stakeholders, and resources need to be strengthened, including consistent Road Safety Boards in all states.

“Civil society has an important role in raising its voice and garnering a movement, business has enormous stake and government has a social obligation,” reinforced Andrew Pearce, Chief Executive, GRSP.

Moving forward into 2011, Mr. Abhik Mitra, Chairman of the CII Core Group on Road Safety closed the conference by presenting six CII initiatives including the adoption of highways, accident investigation analysis for highways and major cities, training programmes for drivers, and mobile awareness units in order to educated the public and reduce accidents.

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