By OUR STAFF REPORTER
Dehradun, 6 Aug: International Road Federation (IRF), a Geneva based global body working for better and safer roads worldwide, has expressed deep concern at the heavy death toll of students in the school bus accident in Kangsali. It has stressed on the need for installation of crash barriers, separate tough driving licence for hill school drivers and stricter fitness and overloading norms for vehicles.
“The WHO Global Status Report on Road Safety, 2018, reveals that road traffic injuries are the first cause of death among children aged 5 and 14. As far as India is concerned, the data provided by the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, highlights that 10,000 children below the age of 18 are killed in road accidents every year. Children travel to schools through various modes of transport and hence ‘The Development of a Draft National Policy for the Safety of Transporting School Children (in all modes of transportation)’ with tough norms is the need of the hour,” said KK Kapila, President Emeritus, International Road Federation (IRF).
“The hill roads in the country are prone to regular road accidents and a lot needs to be done to ensure road safety, especially in higher areas in the states of Uttarakhand, Himachal, Jammu and Kashmir, and North Eastern. The government should plan to incorporate the latest technologies and safety features, including installation of soil and slope stabilisation and roadside safety in the hilly terrain infrastructure, crash barriers, intelligent traffic plans, rumble strips, use of speed governors and proper signage,” added Kapila, expressing concern in a statement today.
“Installation of crash barriers, special separate tough driving licence for hill drivers, use of vehicle tracking system, tough vehicle fitness norms and certification and development of safety code for hills should also be adhered to make road travel safe and sustainable on hills,” he declared.
“The recent move by Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways as well as confirmed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for installation of crash barriers and parapets on most of the hill roads in Uttarakhand, including Char Dham Yatra Route to curb accidents and make the hill roads safer is welcome. Road crash barrier systems are used worldwide on highways, especially on hill roads, to physically prevent vehicles from running off the road or falling down a steep slope and protect vehicle from hitting a road side object. Similar crash barriers should be installed on all hill roads,” Kapila asserted.
“At present, most of the hill roads in the country have been constructed around hill slopes, which remain cut off during heavy rains due to landslides. Construction of well-engineered safe tunnels and long bridges will help in movement of traffic round the year. The Ministry of Road and State PWDs should focus on engineering safe roads rather than more roads as rectifying faulty designed roads with black spots is more expensive than building safe roads. Similarly, the stress should also be on safe vehicles with higher visibility features, including ABS brakes, reflective tapes on commercial vehicles and mandatory fog lamps on all vehicles,” he advised.
“India accounts for the highest number of road accident deaths and accounts for more than 10 per cent of global road accident deaths. During the year 2017, about 1.46 lakh people died in road accidents in the country. As a signatory to The UN Decade of Action Plan, reiterated in Brasilia, India is committed to reducing the number of road accidents and fatalities by half by the year 2020,” he reminded.