Invariably, when talking about road safety or vehicle safety, much of the conversation focuses on cars and the safety aspects surrounding passenger vehicles. However, 2021 data from the NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) indicates that the maximum number of deaths concerned two-wheeler users (44.5%) in the event of a road accident followed by car users (15.1 %) and pedestrians (12.2%) .
In fact, a 2019 Bosch analysis also points out that the probability of death among two-wheeler users is almost 20 times higher than that of passenger vehicle users. Therefore, the focus in road safety must go beyond cars. There is an urgent need to deal with buses, trucks, two-wheelers, pedestrians, cyclists, all vulnerable road users who are drastically affected by this problem.
Piyush Tewari, Founder and CEO of SaveLIFE Foundation points out that the aspect of being visible is a key factor. Compared to cars or trucks and buses, the two-wheeler is a relatively smaller unit on the road and often invisible from afar. As a result, he suggests that it is “necessary for the vehicle to be visible, even at night and in dark areas and in all conditions. On this aspect of their highlighting, very little work has been done. Features such as daytime running lights, and all that to make the vehicle visible should be incorporated.
The second aspect of two-wheeler safety is the braking system, Tewari points out. “anti-lock braking system, electronic stability of the two-wheeler”, are among the key safety features found mainly in high-end two-wheelers, “whereas safety is something that should not be determined by the economic status of the user. Everyone deserves to be safe. So that’s the other aspect that remains unanswered.
The third aspect, according to Tewari, is the need for innovation in the field of helmet technology as well as two-wheel airbags, as these are key requirements to “prevent serious injury in the event of a collision of a two- wheels. “None of this at this stage has been a major area of focus for the industry and Tewari thinks it is high time the industry focused on “the active safety of two-wheeler riders, e.g. opposition to passive safety devices”.
But the topic of road safety is incomplete without adequate reference to pedestrian safety. In India, pedestrians make up a large part of the road. A hitherto ignored issue, Tewari stresses the great need to “redesign streets and highways, considering that pedestrians constitute a huge population in our country, unlike in the West where most people have access to safe cars or other modes of transport”.
“So the number one aspect is the design aspect of roads with adequate facilities for pedestrians that needs to be thought through and we are not just talking about pedestrians on bridges,” he adds.
The second aspect of pedestrian safety is the safety of children and animals and how we ensure. Again this fall in the field of engineering and according to Tewari, a key challenge when it comes to animals. As well as the engineering issues to be resolved, he points to the need for greater awareness, “our signage is primarily for motorized transport, signage for pedestrians and for pedestrian education is almost entirely absent. We must therefore be able to develop a signaling code, which is also relevant for the pedestrian. »
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According to him, not only is it important to put up road signs, but it is also necessary to make them more communicative through graphics, mages, stencil drawings, etc. However, the enforcement of the rules and their proper implementation are key pieces of the puzzle that must fit together properly to ensure the real impact of safety regulations. In this context, Tewari highlights the global trend – “moving from human application to electronic application. And the reason is that the human application has multiple limitations, in terms of bandwidth capacity to be attentive 24/7, etc. The moment you switch to the electronic application, you know a camera won’t come home at eight o’clock, the camera can’t be bribed. »
Additionally, electronic systems are designed to capture many more breaches than the human eye can potentially capture. “There is therefore definitely a great need to move to electronic enforcement,” he adds.
“The third aspect of the app is the educational aspect.” Tewari explains. It begins that it is important to educate users about the different aspects of security and their benefits and to undertake any severe sanction only after adequate awareness. He cites examples of regulations regarding rear seat belts. In the books, it’s mandatory but according to him, “if you’re going to start a rear seatbelt application, I think maybe run a month-long campaign on the benefits of the rear seatbelt before you starting enforcement could lead to greater compliance because people will then know they’ve had the opportunity to be educated.
He signs off emphasizing the need for proper leadership to effectively enforce safety rules on Indian roads. There is a need to develop “a phased enforcement strategy and only then can we see continued enforcement.”