Monday, December 5, 2022

Importance of road safety

In India, the percentage of road crash fatalities and injuries occur in the economically productive age groups of 15 – 64 years. Even the compliance of seat belts in the rear seat is poor in India. For most people, wearing seat belts is mandatory only for the front seat. It is not uncommon to find people preferring to sit in the back just to avoid the “inconvenience” of wearing a seat belt.
Disciplined driving, proper road infrastructure and vehicles equipped with safety features. Only if all these three essentials fall in place can India’s horrific accident figures be brought down. But, unfortunately, we lag in each of these departments. Piecemeal efforts will not produce the desired results even though every little step counts, thus making the recent rule mandating all cars to have six airbags a welcome stipulation. However, recognising the automobile industry’s inability to scale up airbag production at once, the government has deferred the implementation of this norm by a year. This safety equipment is much needed as airbags cushion the impact of a collision and significantly reduce the depth of injuries caused to the passengers in case of an accident. No stone must be left unturned to remove roadblocks in the car manufacturers’ way as they move to meet this deadline.
It’s vital is to accelerate public awareness extolling the primacy of disciplined driving. There is no better safety measure than driving safely and strictly abiding traffic rules. The absence of accountability for such fatal lapses as potholed and poorly-designed roads and highways, poor traffic regulation and enforcement and lack of warning signboards, crash barriers in hilly areas and dedicated lanes for pedestrians and cyclists are some of the major causes of the sad state of affairs. Roads have become veritable death traps as those behind the steering wheel or riding two-wheelers routinely violate rules of speed limit, lane driving and overtaking from the wrong side.
It is this twin effect of rash driving and poor quality of infrastructure that has been driving up the rate of accidents, leading to injuries and deaths, as revealed by various surveys annually. The yawning gap between what is and what should be is best exemplified by the incriminating data that India accounts for nearly 10 per cent of all crash-related deaths even though it has only 1 per cent of the world’s vehicles. Optimal conditions are still a long time away. Meanwhile, the onus of reaching home safely largely falls on each driver.
Aghaka Awomi, Kohima

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