Maharashtra government launches Road Safety Week at NCPA

Updated: Jan 14, 2020, 08:01 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Road Safety Week kicks off with bigwigs stressing consistency in effort, change of attitude in the people, optimism about dipping fatality and accident figures, salute for Good Samaritans and traffic cops

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray speaks at the launch of Road Safety Week at the NCPA complex on Monday. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray speaks at the launch of Road Safety Week at the NCPA complex on Monday. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

The Maharashtra government in association with the Western India Automobile Association (WIAA) launched Road Safety Week on Monday morning at the Jamshed Bhabha Theatre inside the National Centre for the Performing Arts. The week that goes on till January 17 will see a slew of traffic initiatives — from vision tests to driving on simulators, and a drawing and slogan competition for children focussing on road conditions.

Traffic police bigwigs and administrators spoke to a packed audience about road discipline and Mumbai's bugbear, traffic. State Transport Commissioner Shekhar Channe pointed to the pall of gloom that descends on the families of road accident victims. "It can happen to anybody, your family, my family. That is why even all the work we do towards road safety is not enough."

WIAA executive chairman Nitin Dossa said it is "numbers that tell the full story. We have to see a steadily declining graph when it comes to road accidents and deaths, then we will know we are going in the right direction." To the students in the audience, many of whom were holding banners that read: 'don't honk' and 'no conversation is worth your life' referring to the use of mobile phone while driving, riding or crossing roads, he said, "The future generation is the torchbearer of road safety."

Number crunching
Madhukar Pandey, joint commissioner of police (traffic), said, "The road length in Mumbai is 2,000 km. We roughly have 12 lakh cars on the roads and 24 lakh two-wheelers. There are 1 lakh cabs and 2 lakh autos. See the vehicular density. Take into account the infra and Metro work going on in Mumbai and you have an idea of what a challenge this is for the city."

Minister Satej Patil touched a chord with the youth when he said, "If Virat Kohli can wear a helmet, why can't you?" Making a point, Patil said, "Priority is given to roads, gutters but in smaller places we want the government to stress on traffic signals, road signage." He also said that whenever a Development Plan (DP) is made, "do think about taking the opinion of the transport department too, as transport is a huge aspect of development."

The CM speaks
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, while entering the auditorium, doffed his hat to the men in uniform and said, "It is because of you that we, the citizens of this metropolis, we can celebrate festivals safely."

Thackeray said there needs to be a change in the attitude of the people. "Abroad, one can hardly see traffic police and yet rules are obeyed by the drivers. That is the attitude," he said, while praising the Good Samaritans, the ordinary citizens who help accident victims. "I want to see the figures of accidents and deaths on the road decline, there should be no 'progress' on that count," the CM said, adding that the state government "is willing to give the traffic department whatever infra it needs to make Maharashtra a safer state, just tell us what you want".

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