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Cyrus Mistry’s death opens debate on road safety

The death of former chairman of Tata Sons Cyrus Mistry in a road accident near Palghar in Maharashtra has initiated a debate on road safety issues such as check on over-speeding, wearing of seat belts for rear passengers and inconsistent road designs.

Experts have pressed for the need to keep a check on speeding vehicles and making the use of seat belts for rear passengers mandatory. They have also stressed that roads in Delhi should have consistent designs to avoid any accidents.

“Inconsistency in road design can be spotted at a few stretches in the national capital which include Eastern and Western Peripheral expressways, Outer Ring Road, Ring Road among others. For example, at some points a six-lane road reduces into a four-lane stretch and uneven surfaces can also be witnessed at many locations. These issues pose a threat to driving and shall be done away with,” Chief Scientist, Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), New Delhi, S Velmurugan told PTI.

He said there are three major takeaways from Sunday’s accident which include that roads, especially highways, must have consistent designs, proper signages and the awareness about wearing seat belts in the rear and enforcement of the law.

Velmurugan said that proper signages should be put up at locations where they are either missing or not visible.

He also called for strict enforcement of laws in terms of wearing rear seat belts and speeding on city roads.

“During night hours or lean traffic hours people tend to go well beyond the prescribed speed limit on Delhi roads so a mechanism of strong enforcement should be put in place to check violators. The traffic police should also start penalising those who do not wear seat belt while sitting in the rear of the car,” Velmurugan said.

According to the Delhi Transport Department’s Road Crash Fatalities Report 2021, as many as 1,238 persons were killed in road accidents compared to 1,866 dead in 2012, a 37 per cent decline in the last 10 years.

Motorcyclists (both riders and pillion riders) accounted for 43 per cent and pedestrians for 42 per cent of all the deaths.

A total of 93 per cent of the deaths occurred among vulnerable road users which include pedestrians, motorcyclists, cyclists and autorickshaw occupants- both motorised and electric, the had report said.

The department has also identified around 69 fatal crash spots across the national capital, which saw more than five accidents per kilometre in the last two years.

The top accident prone 10 areas are Mukarba Chowk, intersection of Outer Ring Road and Wazirabad Road near Signature Bridge, Nirankari Chowk, Seelampur Chowk, Peeragarhi Chowk, Azadpur Chowk, Outer Ring Road in front of Rohini court near Madhubani Chowk, Dabri crossing roundabout, intersection of Grand Trunk Road and Main Libaspur Road and Punjabi Bagh Chowk.

According to International Road Federation (IRF), India accounts for more than 11 per cent of the road accidents deaths worldwide with 426 lives lost every day and 18 every hour.

President, IRF India Chapter, Satish Parakh said, “We urge the Union and the state governments to make every possible effort to change the road safety culture while establishing clear road safety norms. Global agencies involved in road safety have blamed lack of policies and enforcement as the main reasons behind increasing road fatalities in the country.”

However, Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic) S S Yadav said there has been a decadal decline in the road accidents from 2011 to 2021.

He said post the coronavirus pandemic, the movement of the road will increase.

Yadav said the traffic police has a dedicated road safety cell which takes care of awareness measures for the road users including the pedestrians and motorcyclists.

“We conduct road safety programmes for commercial vehicle drivers also,” he said.

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