mid-day editorial: Steering towards better road safety

This number crunching does not call for any celebration. In fact, it should trigger introspection and shame. India accounts for 10 per cent of all road accident deaths around the globe.

Statistics show that in one year, about 1.46 lakh people lose their lives in road accidents in India, which is the highest in the world. Now consider this, India tops the list of road deaths but has less than three per cent of the world’s vehicles.

Acknowledging the high road accident casualty rate and the need to raise awareness, the International Road Federation now has a World Day of Remembrance for road crash victims, which was on November 20.

It is time to put our foot on the pedal when it comes to road safety. Steps are being taken, but it is time to expedite heftier penalties for rule breakers. Let this become a reality, for there is nothing more effective than burning a hole in the pocket, to make people adhere to the rules.

Drunk driving has been checked to a large extent, but more needs to be done when it comes to breathalysers. The drive needs to be taken to the next level when it comes to technology.

Mobile phone usage is a big contributor to accidents. Better policing and checking could bring down these figures. Recently, we had ‘Pokemon’ problems on our roads. It shows us how authorities need to be constantly alive to new challenges. Driving schools have to put a premium on lives. It is the man behind the wheel who needs to acknowledge and feel his responsibility.

Constant reinforcement of the message through short films in public places, celebrity tie-ups with traffic departments, will go some way in upping the awareness quotient. India needs to take a step down from its ‘highest’ pedestal here. Being No 1 in this case is just not acceptable.

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