With road accidents on the rise, the government is planning to set up a body dedicated to ensuring better road safety and traffic management.

“We are actively considering creation of National Road Safety and Traffic Management Board,” Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Oscar Fernandes said while addressing a meeting of the National Road Safety Council in New Delhi.

“The board will act as a dedicated agency to oversee road safety activity in the country, and will have powers to issue guidelines on a wide range of issues concerning road safety,” he said.

National efforts would be boosted if the States can actively champion the cause of road safety, he added.

In 2012, the country witnessed 490,383 total road accidents. The total number of road accident fatalities stood at 138,258 in the same year, official data shows.

According to sources, Road Transport and Highways Ministry is likely to circulate a Cabinet note regarding the proposal soon.

The proposed body may not have penalising powers, sources added.

Mr. Fernandes further said all sectors of the government including health, transport, education and police have the authority and responsibility to make decisions, control resources and coordinate efforts.

“It will be a relegated agency to see road safety activities in the country,” Mr. Fernandes said.

The proposed board will periodically review the action being taken and give necessary directions, he added.

Emphasising the need for better road safety mechanisms, Mr. Fernandes also said that the focus on the road safety issues starts right from the preparation of the Detailed Project Report for construction of a Road Project.

“Road Safety Audits are a must during this phase. We are examining the issue of appointing the Road Safety Auditors till the completion of construction. Best practices on the Road Equipments, Technology and Management practices focusing on the Road safety are necessary,” he said.

The Minister added that many accidents take place because of poor road conditions and therefore monitoring and redemption in time of stretches which have poor road quality should be taken up urgently.

In the next meeting of the National Road Safety Council, scheduled on October 27, the government is likely to deliberate on the issue of national permit scheme for the long distance buses, tourist bus among other things.

The Ministry had also taken action for formulation of National Ambulance Code in order to improve the quality and safety of ambulances on Indian roads, the minister further added.

Certain minimum standards and guidelines have been laid down for constructional and functional requirements of ambulances so as to ensure care and comfort to the patients, he said.

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