“We’re all on the road almost every day, and most of us reach home safely, but we don’t realise that about 400 people don’t,” says Amar Srivastava, founder of the Indian Road Safety Campaign (IRSC), an IIT Delhi-initiated student-led initiative, under the road-safety trust, Solve. Over the past two years, the organisation has observed the United Nations Global Road Safety Week.
This year with the World Health Organization (WHO) supporting them monetarily, they are reaching out to people in as many as 22 cities. With #Speakup being the theme this year, the push is for everyone on the road to be a leader. Srivastava says it’s a four-pronged strategy:
Step 1: Start the conversation around road safety. He urges commuters to use the power of social media, and speak up.
Step 2: Stop the perpetrators. Last year the group had children give their parents a report card on driving. “The point is not to shame people, but if people are wary about say, parking in a no-parking zone because someone may point it out on social media, then it helps,” he says. Even a seemingly trivial incident can turn serious.
Step 3: Share the responsibility. “If there’s a potholed road, we should let the authorities know,” he says. When people band together, pressure can result in action.
Step 4: Take a position of leadership. Srivastava says that unfortunately, people who volunteer with the organization come after they’ve had someone in the family get meet a tragic end. Instead, he hopes people will understand how serious a problem it is, and tackle it any way possible. Someone breaking a traffic light for instance, can meet with a tragic accident. Leadership, says Srivastava, is about taking mini steps in catalysing behaviour change. It’s as simple as asking a friend to wear a helmet.
This week there will be awareness events conducted in schools and group discussions held in colleges.
Communities will organise events so that people can communicate their demands to those occupying administrative positions.
The WHO, in its Global status report on road safety 2018 said that the number of annual road traffic deaths has reached 1.35 million. Road traffic injuries are now the leading killer of people ages 5-29 years.
To organise an awareness campaign or volunteer, go to ww2.road-safety.co.in/contact