State, WRI join hands to develop road safety plan

Mumbai: The State government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the World Resources Institute (WRI), India, to develop safer roads in the State and make transportation systems safe for road users.

The two-year-long MoU between the WRI and the State Transport Department will involve developing a road safety action plan to reduce road fatalities and injuries. A similar campaign was launched earlier this year by WRI India in partnership with the Haryana government.

WRI is a global non-profit organisation working in several sectors. It has been working in the field of road safety since 2010, supported primarily by Bloomberg Philanthropies. The Institute works towards increasing road safety by improving road geometry and design, and improving safety of public transit.

The MoU operates on the vision zero approach introduced in Sweden, which aims at making transportation systems safe for the most vulnerable users: pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists. “After beginning work in the space of road safety, we soon realised that to make real changes, we needed to start working at the State level. A lot of the road fatalities occur on highways, not within cities. Mumbai saw 562 deaths last year, but at the State level, a significantly higher number of deaths occur on highways. The decision making takes place at that State level,” said Binoy Mascarenhas, senior manager, WRI India, said.

The MoU was signed by Madhav Pai, director, WRI India, and Prakash Sable, State Deputy Secretary.

State Transport Minister Diwakar Raote, who was the chief guest on the occasion, said, “I always try to apply my mind as to how we can reduce accidents. It is practicality that matters, not theoretical principles on paper. We have to address concerns regarding traffic patterns and available infrastructure, but WRI must also tackle the mentality of people in order to deal with what is on the road.”

Mr. Raote also demarcated between road fatalities and those that are severely injured or disabled due to road accidents, highlighting the latter. “Around 40,000 are killed every year in the State due to accidents, but many more are injured. Therefore, we must aim to save the lives of pedestrians and drivers, even if they drive recklessly,” the Minister said.

Some solutions, such as restricting the number of cars per family to one, digitising fine payments, drivers’ training for individuals every five years, integration of new technology in the transport system, while also contemplating the introduction of a new law mandating medical and eyesight examinations for drivers at regular intervals, were also proposed by Mr. Raote.

The MoU includes creating an institutional mechanism to facilitate coordination between various authorities involved with road safety. WRI India will also advise the government on how to effectively spend the Road Safety Fund set up in 2016. Another component of the MoU is the identification of strategies for road safety, such as audits on highways, crash investigations, identifying accident-prone areas, amongst others.

Officials said the road safety action plan was already under development, and it should be completed in six months.

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Printable version | Aug 13, 2020 8:22:23 PM |

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