UL and NIMHANS release national level research reports on road safety

BANGALORE, May 12, 2017: To mark the Fourth United Nations Global Road Safety Week (May 8 – 14),UL, a global safety science leader and National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) today released an exhaustive analytical study titled “Advancing Road Safety in India: Implementation is the Key”. To serve as a ready reckoner, UL and NIMHANS also released a summary study, along with a ‘facts and figures’ report.Intended as a reference document to aid multiple stakeholders in developing comprehensive mechanisms to address the road safety crisis currently afflicting the country, the pan-Indian study delves into the accident data sourced from various government and independent, national and international reports and studies. It also offers a state wise perspective to indicate differential burden of road traffic incidents.

The reportexamines the impact of rapid socio-economic development and motorizationwithout accompanying prioritization to road safety. It analyzes conflictingdata points and under reporting from varied sources, which occur on account ofinvestigation by less trained personnel. The data laden study also scrutinizesthe patterns of road related fatalities and injuries across a plethora ofcriteria – gender, type of road user, economic background of the victim andlocation (urban/rural). Inferring that the complexity of the road safetyproblem in India is an amalgamation of varied macro and micro factors, thereport lays bare the challenges of addressing the country’s  alarming rateof road traffic incidents – inefficiency in implementation of relevant lawsowing to divided responsibility between central and state governments acrossvarious ministries, the lack of a coherent data collection system that combinespolice and hospital records, inadequacy of public infrastructure like well-maintainedroads and trauma centres and the absence of in-depth crash analysis thatresults in ineffective, ad hoc measures to curb accidents, among otherreasons.  Key insights from the report are:

  • Based on a summary of available data from Indian studies, it can be concluded that pedestrians (30 – 40 %), two wheeler riders/ pillions (30 – 40 %) and cyclists (approximately10 %) account for nearly 80 % of road deaths and injuries, which is in contrast with official reports due to fallacies in reporting practices.
  • Few Indian studies indicate the number of deaths is likely to be higher by nearly 20 %, while serious injuries are underreported by more than 50 % as compared to official reports.  
  • The five southern Indian states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra together accounted for 46.8% of accidents.
  • As per national reports, only 22.1% of accidents and 11.3% of road deaths occurred in the 50 million plus cities in India in 2015. (MoRTH, 2015). Thus, it is clear that large number of road crashes and deaths occur on rural roads (that also include most of the national and state highways) where road safety is yet to gain prominence.
  • Indian Highways (54, 72,144 kilometers) account for 4.84% of road length but contribute to half (52.4%) of road accidents and 63% of road deaths in India.
  • Very few injured and seriously affected persons receive adequate trauma care and situation is worse in rural India.
  • Irrespective of data source and nature, in more specific terms, 100% of the severely injured, 50% of the moderately injured, and 10–20% of the mildly injured will have lifelong disabilities. 

The studywas released by Shri R. Ramalinga Reddy, Honorable Minister forTransport, Government of Karnataka at the national symposium‘Advancing Road Safety in India’ jointly organized by UL and NIMHANS, whereexperts also deliberated on the study’s suggestions for positive safetyoutcomes. The comprehensive reports were developed by the WHO CollaboratingCentre for Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion and Centre for Public Healthat NIMHANS, Bangalore. 

Commentingon the launch of the report, Mr. R.A. Venkitachalam, Vice President, PublicSafety, UL, said,“It would not be an exaggeration to state that the lack of safety on Indianroads is tantamount to a public emergency. With the recent passage of the MotorVehicles Bill in the Lok Sabha, there is a renewed vigor on part of thegovernment to gear the country toward safer roads. However, the situationcannot be rectified by one agency alone – multiple stakeholders, from thegovernment, corporates, auto manufacturers, law enforcement, health careprofessionals, educational institutions and road safety experts need tocollaborate on a scientific level to evolve sustainable solution for theproblem. At UL, we have always believed in the efficacy of applying science tosolve any safety issue. Our association with NIMHANS is one of the mostimportant engagements in India to further our public safety mission. Imbuedwith varied perspectives, this data rich report is without doubt, a crucialstarting point to further advance the agenda of road safety in India”. 

Dr G.Gururaj, Head of WHO CC and Centre for public Health at NIMHANS and the authorof national road safety reports mentioned that “Road safety in India has been aneglected area amidst rapid developmental policies and programmes and facesmultiple challenges in implementation. Essentially road safety is science andrequires a scientific approach to address the problem that needs to move beyondsimplistic answers. Advancing road safety   needs a framework basedon good quality data that should bring multiple stake holders to implementsolutions in a convergent manner with systematic monitoring and evaluation ofprogrammes and interventions”.

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