India must strictly enforce road safety standards and educate citizens to reduce accidents, say experts

The recent death of Cyrus Mistry in a road accident has again raised questions about vehicle safety and the structural safety of the country’s roads.

About 1.5 lakh deaths take place every year in road accidents. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has drawn up a draft regulation requiring car manufacturers to install an alarm system for rear seat belts. By issuing a notification on the draft rules, the ministry has invited public comments/suggestions until October 5.

According to the draft proposal, the cars will also be equipped with a speed alert system to check for speeding and a manual override for the central locking system. The government is also urging carmakers to fit six airbags in all cars, although the deadline for the six-airbag rule is likely to be extended.

Vijay Chhibber, former road transport and highways secretary, in an interview with CNBC-TV18, said India is extremely lax when it comes to road safety enforcement.

“We only seem to discuss road safety issues when there is a major event, like Cyrus Mistry’s accident. Road safety has become a public health emergency in the country for many years. Even in 2014, India had decided to follow EU road safety architecture standards, possibly with a lag of 3-4 years to allow the industry to catch up. However, India seems very flippant in terms of enforcement – the ‘chalta hai’ the attitude can be seen at all levels,” Chhibber said.

He added that the country needed a road safety program modeled on the Swach Bharat country.

Vikram Kirloskar, vice president of Toyota Kirloskar Motors, said the responsibility should rest with everyone, not just the automakers.

“Road Minister Nitin Gadkari has continually (emphasized) road safety and the death toll in India. He did his best to introduce more vehicle regulations. However, it’s not just the vehicle alone – of course vehicles must be safe and must meet international safety standards, but we must look at the whole ecosystem. The quality of the roads, the training of drivers, the behavior of people who drive cars on the road and ensuring that everyone follows the rules and regulations.

Kirloskar added that India must educate everyone on road safety.

“If you’re driving on a freeway, you see people overtaking on the left, right and in the middle – these are basic traffic rule issues and safe driving issues. So it’s not all about the car, it’s also the attitude of the driver towards safety, the attitude of pedestrians towards safety,” he said.

Watch the video to learn more.


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