“The Decade of Action for Road Safety”, a plan promoted by United Nations (UN) to stabilise and reduce road traffic fatalities worldwide by the year 2020, was launched here in India and a 100 other countries on Wednesday.

In India, the UN decade of action for road safety was launched jointly by the International Road Federation (IRF), Institute of Road Traffic Education, (IRTE), All India Institute of Medical Sciences Apex Trauma Centre and Indian Department of Road Transport and Highways.

Developed with the support of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the “plan for the decade” would enjoin all agencies, organisations and groups concerned to help minimise road accidents. Road users also would be involved in working towards strengthening preventive programmes, improving trauma care and monitoring progress of the efforts launched under the plan.

India tops accident deaths

According to WHO's global status report on road safety, India tops the global count of road accident deaths with 1,25,000 fatalities (10 per cent global road accident deaths) and “at least 2.2 million serious injuries each year”.

A Department of Road Transport and Highways official said a scheme for upgradation of trauma care facilities on national highways had been drawn up with the support of Ministries of Health and Family Welfare and Road Transport and Highways: “Trauma care facilities in 140 State Government hospitals along the Golden Quadrilateral, north-south and east-west corridors of national highways will be upgraded. Fully equipped ambulances will be provided at an interval of 50 km on completed sections of national highways under the control of the National Highways Authority of India,” he said.

“As per a study conducted by a working group set up by India's Planning Commission, the country loses 3 per cent of its GDP [gross domestic product] on account of road accidents. In absolute terms, this worked out to Rs.55,000 crore in 1999-2000, which in the current context would amount to Rs.75,000 crore a year. In spite of these facts being known to all concerned, the Government and the Indian civil society have done little to avert this epidemic,” said IRTE president Rohit Baluja.

“The Decade of Action for Road Safety” targets reducing road accident deaths in the country by 50 per cent by the next year. “We can all help raise awareness and campaign for safer roads in our respective communities, schools, and workplace,” said IRF president K. K. Kapila in his message from Bucharest, Romania. 

 AIIMS Trauma Centre chief M. C. Mishra was also present at the occasion.