5 questions about road safety in India

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Panoramic view of car jam in India

In the run up to the first hackathon on road safety in India, we caught up with Arnab Bandopadhyay, Senior Transport Engineer at the World Bank and asked him a few questions: 
  • Why is the World Bank focusing on road safety in India?
India’s roads are among the most dangerous in the world. The number of deaths from road accidents has risen sharply over the past decade. More than one million people have lost their lives in the past 10 years alone and another 5.3 million have been disabled or disfigured for life.

While India has less than 3% of the world’s vehicles, it accounts for some 11% of the world’s road deaths. That too, when many such incidents are not documented at all.

Road accidents are not only traumatic for victims and their families but also take a huge economic toll on the country.    They cost an estimated 3% of GDP each year. The large majority of road accident victims are pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists - mostly from the economically weaker sections of the society – making road safety a matter of social equity. Promoting road safety is therefore an important national priority.
  • What is the purpose of a hackathon on road safety in India?
Through the hackathon we hope to raise awareness about road safety and encourage young people to come up with new ways to use technology to address the issue. We also hope this event will encourage young people to engage on this pressing issue.
  • What is the World Bank doing to help improve road safety in India?
The World Bank, along with its partners, is trying to raise social awareness about road safety and improve the overall legislative, institutional, financing and monitoring framework for road safety. Road safety related investments are an important component of the World Bank’s road projects in 11 states. These projects finance safe road infrastructure, help the states build road safety management systems, and improve community engagement and awareness.
  • What, in your opinion, are the quick wins for promoting road safety?
Many road accidents are easily preventable. Five strictly enforced interventions can make an initial impact:
  1. Enforcing the compulsory use of seat belts and helmets.
  2. Taking strong action against drunk driving and speeding.
  3. Installing road signs, markings and crash barriers; segregating pedestrians and non-motorised traffic from the main vehicular stream; and ensuring that sidewalks and road shoulders are usable.
  4. Tightening the driver-licensing and vehicle-registration systems; installing speed cameras and other automated devices at high-risk locations; and imposing credible fines for violations.
  5. Establishing a string of trauma care centers so that victims can reach quality medical care within the golden hour.
  • What has been the impact of the World Bank’s work so far?
Some states have begun to implement road safety measures more seriously than before. For instance, under the Kerala State Transport Project (KSTP), Kerala has constituted a single road safety authority with a dedicated road safety fund. Tamil Nadu has installed GIS-based software to identify the most accident-prone spots on its roads, enabling the authorities to take remedial action. The guidelines, manuals and procedures developed to improve road safety under World Bank supported projects are now being mainstreamed and adopted by many states. 

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Arnab Bandyopadhyay

Senior Transport Engineer, South Asia Transport

Vinita Ranade

Communications Consultant

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