New Delhi: Educating drivers and strictly enforcing traffic laws are crucial for reducing road accidents, said experts at a panel discussion during the India Economic Summit, a part of the ongoing World Economic Forum, in New Delhi.
“We need to follow the rules religiously so that the next generation could learn from us,” said Dinesh Mohan, professor of transport research and injury prevention, WHO Collaborating Centre, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.
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Delhi witnesses the world’s highest number of road accidents. There were 118,000 road accidents in the national capital in 2008, up from 114,000 in 2007, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.
“Human behaviour is the main reason, among others, responsible for growing number of accidents,” Mohan said.
But there was no consensus on how to improve behaviour.
“The best way we can do it is by educating the drivers, high quality engineering specifications for road construction, proper quality of vehicles and also evacuation and emergency issue after the accidents,” said Vikram Kirloskar, vice-chairman, Toyota Kirloskar Motors Ltd.
But Mohan said education alone is not enough. “It is not only Indians who flout the rules. When we did a study on the behaviour of foreigners in India while driving, we found that 77% of them were not wearing seat belts, which they would have done in their countries. This proved that education cannot work and law enforcement has the key,” he said.
Mohan added that no deaths were reported from a stretch after it was converted into a bus rapid transport corridor, although it used to average 18 deaths a year earlier.
Siddhartha Lal, managing director and chief executive of Eicher Motors India Ltd, said people do not feel safe on the roads even in developed countries.
“Cities have to be made taking in view the comfort of the people and not vehicles, so that pedestrians do not fear to come on to the road,” he said. “Transport is a big bottleneck in cities but at the same time it drastically improves the productivity of the city. So the need of the hour is to make our cities safer.”
Amon Muhinga Kimunya, Kenya’s transport minister, said driving abilities should be reviewed regularly. “We should try and revise the driving curriculum at regular intervals and we need to retake the driving test every three years.