Govt to set up national body to oversee road safety issues

December 2, 2013

Dipak Kumar Dash,TNN |

NEW DELHI: After facing criticism for doing little on road safety despite 1.4 lakh deaths every year in crashes, the transport ministry has decided to set up an apex body to address all road safety-related issues. The ministry plans to establish the body through an executive order rather than following a lengthy legislative procedure.

The Road Safety and Traffic Management Board will have overarching powers to seek explanation and issue directions to both government and private agencies on all issues relating to road safety, said a senior government official. He added that the board will have powers to summon vehicle manufacturers, if it finds any fault in vehicles involved in accidents.

Sources said the board will have powers to recommend minimum design, construction, operation and maintenance standards for national highways besides conducting safety audits to monitor compliance. It can also conduct research in different spheres of road safety and traffic management besides recommending mechanism for data collection.

Different agencies including World Health Organization (WHO) have pushed the need for a central body that can coordinate and oversee road safety-related issues in India. At present, there is little coordination among different wings of governments at the Centre and states working on road safety.

The transport ministry has decided to take the executive order route to create the board as the amendment in Motor Vehicles Act to increase penalty for traffic violations is pending before the Lok Sabha for 18 months after it was passed by the Rajya Sabha. Sources said the ministry and WHO are roping in some Lok Sabha MPs across parties to hold a dialogue during the next Parliament session. The plan is to push passage of the bill since road safety experts feel increasing penalty for violation of traffic rules would prove a deterrent to vehicle users.


Belgium aid to promote road safety

November 29, 2013


LUDHIANA: In a significant move which comes as a silver lining for road users in Punjab, Belgium government has extended full cooperation to Punjab in reducing the number of deaths on roads. This was stated by the vice-chairman of Punjab road safety council, Kamaljeet Soi, who recently met Princess Astrid of Belgium and Didier Reynders, deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, foreign trade and European affairs and ambassador of king of Belgians, at a diplomatic reception hosted by the princess in New Delhi on November 24.Soi, who has been an alumni of Hasselt University and lives in Dugri Phase II of the city, said that he appraised the queen on the everyday bloody massacre on roads of Punjab and the apathetic attitude of central government in lowering the mortality on the roads.

He added that princess Astrid, a great philanthropist, assured him of the fullest support and cooperation of Belgium government in reducing road fatalities in Punjab and invited him to Belgium to work out an action plan for the future. Soi explained that alliance with Belgium can help a long way in importing the know-how regarding road correction, and improving road safety for pedestrians, cyclists, and
motorcyclists in a complex spatial environment like that in Punjab.

Par panel to seek report from Road Ministry on Volvo mishaps

November 21, 2013

  | Agency: PTI

 A Parliamentary panel will seek a report from the Road Transport and Highways Ministry on the recent Volvo bus accidents in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka that killed over 50 persons.

“Are there something in Indian conditions that Volvo has not taken into account or is there something wrong in the manner in which our people are operating these buses? These have to be seriously considered. The committee will enquire into it,” Sitram Yechury, Chairman of the Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture, told reporters here.

“We will seek a report from the Road Transport and Highways Ministry and try to find out what went wrong as from what we understand these buses have been built to international standards of safety and technical requirements,” he added.

In the first accident at Mahbubnagar in Andhra Pradesh, 45 passengers were charred to death on October 30 as a Volvo bus burst into flames after its fuel tank caught fire.

The accident occurred when the diesel tank of the Hyderabad-bound bus from Bangalore hit against a culvert. The entire bus was engulfed in flames in a matter of minutes.

In the second incident on November 14, seven passengers were killed and 40 injured when a Mumbai-bound bus from Bangalore caught fire after hitting a road median at Haveri in Karnataka .

“We don’t understand, whether it is a new technically advanced thing that the Volvo is producing or something is wrong. We will ask the Ministry for certain clarifications and make our recommendations,” Yechury said.

He also questioned road designs and planning. “In one of our reports, we have very strongly criticised that the government is not adhering to technical aspects of road building. We hope the Ministry will give its action taken report during the current session.”


Close ducts on highway bridges, says NHAI report

November 20, 2013

Committee recommends complete closure of all gaps following ad executives’ fatal accident

 Pune Mirror Bureau

The car in which the four ad executives
were travelling fell through a 15-ft gap between two bridges

A consultants’ committee of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) have recommended that all ducts of bridges on the Pune-Bangalore Highway should be completely closed. The report comes after the recent, tragic accident in which four advertising professionals lost their lives.

In their safety audit report, submitted to the NHAI on Monday, the committee recommended that all similar ducts should be closed and barricaded to avoid mishaps.

The car carrying Pranav Lele, Sahil Qureshi, Shrutika Chandwani and Chintan Buch fell into the river Neera at Sarola, around 50 km from the city, on the Pune-Bangalore highway.

The car fell through a 15-foot gap between two bridges after hitting a road divider, and sank into the river. The accident raised several questions over security and the lack of concrete walls or crash barriers at the end of the bridge in Bhor taluka which separates Pune district from Satara.

Earlier, there was only a two-lane bridge over the highway; a second adjoining bridge was constructed a few years ago.

NHAI officials intend to share the report with the highway police for further discussions on the subject and will seek their feedback. A meeting of senior NHAI officials, the highway police and other stakeholders will also be held to chalk out a safety roadmap.

“The consultants have recommended that the duct near Neera Bridge where the accident occurred, should be closed. The report also suggests that all such ducts on the highway should be barricaded, to avoid such incidents.

All these recommendations will be sent to the NHAI’s headquarters in Delhi for final approval. Once this is done, and the required funds have been procured, the work will start,” said a senior NHAI official on condition of anonymity.


Sunita Narain: Come out and claim the road

November 15, 2013

We have built city roads only for cars to move. Cars rule the road

Sunita Narain

I write this column from my bed, recovering from an accident that broke my bones. I was hit by a speeding car while cycling. The driver fled the scene of the accident in the car, leaving me bleeding on the road. This is what happens again and again, in every city of our country, on every road – as we plan without care for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. These are the invisible users. They die doing nothing more than the most ordinary thing like crossing a road. I was more fortunate. Two cars stopped, and strangers helped me and took me to the hospital. I received treatment. I will be back, fighting fit.

And this is one battle that needs our combined attention. We cannot lose the space to walk and cycle. Since my accident, relatives and friends have berated me for being so reckless as to cycle on Delhi’s roads. They are right. We have built city roads only for cars to move. Cars rule the road. There are no dedicated lanes for cycles; there are no sidewalks. The little stretches that do exist are either dirty or taken over by parked cars. Roads are for cars. The rest don’t matter.

But cycling and walking are difficult not just because of poor planning. It is also because of the mindset that only those who move in a car have status and road rights. Anyone who walks or cycles is considered poor, wretched and destined to be marginalised, if not obliterated.

This is what must change. We have no option but to reinvent mobility, as I keep repeating. Toxic smog in Delhi recently reached a new peak. Last month, the World Health Organisation declared air pollutants a human carcinogen. We must realise that this pollution is not acceptable. It is killing us, and no longer softly or slowly. But if we are serious about combatting air pollution, we have no option but to think about restraining the growth of cars. Learn how to move people, not cars.

When the Centre for Science and Environment began its campaign against air pollution in the mid-1990s, it did everything conventional. It pushed to improve the quality of fuel; improve emission standards of vehicles; and to put the inspection and maintenance systems for checking tailpipe emissions in place. It also pushed a leapfrog solution: the transition to compressed natural gas (CNG) for grossly polluting vehicles such as diesel buses and two-stroke autorickshaws. That made a difference. There is no doubt that the quality of air would have been even worse, even more deadly, without these steps.

But this is not good enough. Pollution levels are rising again, inexorably and inevitably. All research points to one cause and one big solution: building transport systems differently. We also have the option of doing this. We still haven’t motorised; nor have we built every flyover or four-lane road. Most importantly, much of India still takes the bus, walks or cycles – in many cites as much as 20 per cent of the population bikes. We do this because we are poor. Now the challenge is to reinvent city planning so that we can do this as we become rich.

For the past few years, this is exactly what we have been working on – how to bring back integrated and safe public transport options to our cites, so that even if we own a car, we don’t have to drive it.

But the keyword is integration. We can build a metro or get new buses, but if we do not have last-mile connectivity, then it will still not work. It has to be seamless and effortless. This is why we need to think differently.

This is where we are failing. Today there is talk of transport, cycling and pedestrians’ needs. But it is empty talk. Every time there is an attempt to convert a part of the road into a cycle track, the proposal is virulently opposed. The argument is that it cannot be done because it will take away space from cars and will add to congestion. But that is exactly what we need to do – reduce lanes for cars and add space for buses, cycles and pedestrians. This is the only way to get out of the ever-growing car bulge on roads.

This takes courage of conviction. On our overcrowded and chaotic roads, planning for cycle tracks and keeping sidewalks clean and clear will take lots of effort. I have absolutely no illusions that this will be easy to plan or to implement. But why should that deter us? The rest of the world has learnt successfully to rework road space so that it provides dignity and accessibility to cyclists and pedestrians. It has learnt to restrict space for cars and yet build extremely liveable cites.

Just think of the double bonus: getting rid of the most noxious source of pollution will result in clean air; and having the option to get some exercise while commuting will mean healthy bodies.

This is what we have to fight for. And we will. I hope all of you will join us in making the right to cycle and walk with safety non-negotiable.

PS: To the strangers who took me to the hospital and to the extraordinary doctors at the AIIMS trauma centre who saved my life, thank you.

[email protected]

Potholes make drive on this stretch nightmarish

November 14, 2013

Prakash Samaga, TNN |

UDUPI: Potholed-riddled National Highway 66 stretch between Kundapur to Shiroor is a driver’s nightmare. Motorists say that they cannot take a speed of over 20kmph on the stretch though it is a national highway. The bad condition of the road is also affecting tourists inflow to Maravanthe beach, a much sought-after tourism destination.G M Cheriyabba, a resident of Gulwadi, said nothing has been done to change the condition of the road in the past six months. “The repair work is delayed as there is a proposal to make the road from Kundapur to Karwar a four lane stretch. Repair works should be done to ease the traffic soon. There are hundreds of potholes near the KSRTC bus stand in Kundapur, Hemmady, Maravanthe, Byndoor and Shiroor. Ambulances also face inconveniences due to the poor condition of the road. The condition of Arate Bridge in this stretch is no better,” he added.Manjunath Nayak, an engineer attached to the national highway wing of the public works department said as the stretch was handed over to NHAI for converting it to a four lane road, the grant required for the repair works was delayed. “Recently Rs 85 lakh has been deposited by the NHAI with the state PWD to start asphalting works. The last date for submitting the tender is November 19. The work will be taken up shortly after that. On the 30 km stretch, 17.3 km is badly damaged. This will get the first priority,” he added.


CCTV watch makes roads safer

November 13, 2013

Krishnendu Bandyopadhyay, TNN


KOLKATA: You may not know it, but you are on camera on virtually every traffic crossing in the city. The end-to-end CCTV surveillance launched on November 1 is revolutionizing how Kolkata Police prevent crime and tackle traffic jams.

TOI brings you three such instances where CCTV watch helped police to intervene quickly and take effective action.

At Esplanade, a young girl looked terrified as she tried desperately to escape two stalkers. None of the passersby had noticed her plight, but a camera mounted high above did. Officers from the Lalbazar HQ quietly passed on the girl’s exact location to a team on the ground. Within seconds, two policemen showed up and asked her if she needed any help. The harassers were caught by surprise and had no way to escape.

SN Banerjee Road and Lenin Sarani were choked with bumper-to-bumper traffic. But the parallel Creek Row and Ganesh Avenue were relatively free. A senior officer, who could see footage of the gridlock on his tablet while on the move, ordered vehicles to be diverted to Ganesh Avenue-Creek Row. Commuters may have wondered how traffic started flowing smoothly. If you were there, now you know the secret.

A car sped dangerously past Gariahat crossing, forcing pedestrians to scamper to safety. A sergeant on Gurusaday Road was alerted. As the car sped on dangerously, he drew iron-barricades across the road and stood firm, forcing the car to slow down. There was no escape. The driver – a minor – was booked.

The optical-fibre enabled surveillance network has given Kolkata Police an edge that was unthinkable even a few years ago. There is hardly any crossing that has not been covered, say police. “It was a challenge to us to bring 200 square kilometer of the city police jurisdiction under camera surveillance. We succeeded. Now each of 25 traffic guards is also monitoring their respective territories,” said special commissioner (II) Soumen Mitra.

Impressed with its extensive cover, chief minister Mamata Banerjee feels confident that will reduce crimes against women.

Mitra said that the cameras are capable of transmitting high definition (HD) pictures and are effective in low-light conditions as well. Moreover, senior officers can get the feed of any camera at anytime on move. This will help them assess a situation and take action on the basis of the real-time footage.

It’s also a boon to traffic management. The city has perpetually struggles with limited road space and traffic management is getting more and more difficult because of rising number of private cars.

The police tried to solve it with ‘area traffic control’ but it could not be fully utilized because of the wrong choice of technology, said an officer.

The CCTV surveillance system has come as a shot in the arm for the traffic cops. It gives police a view of the whole area to check for roads that are clogged and roads that can be used to ease the logjam. “This system actually facilitates us to strike an equitable distribution of traffic by making minor diversions,” said a traffic police officer.

The traffic police want to take it a step further by enabling the cameras to zoom into number plates. They want to install software for automatic motor-registration recognition. “This system will not only capture the registration number of a vehicle but also dig out details of the owner from the database and pin-pointing the exact place of offence with latitude and longitude coordinates,” said Mitra.



CPI seminar for more safety measures on highways

November 5, 2013

 By Express News Service – HYDERABAD


  • CPI state secretary K Narayana (right) speaking at an all-party meeting on ‘Road accidents and private bus operators’ negligence’ at the party office, Mqdoom Bhavan, in Hyderabad on Sunday | A RADHAKRISHNA
    CPI state secretary K Narayana (right) speaking at an all-party meeting on ‘Road accidents and private bus operators’ negligence’ at the party office, Mqdoom Bhavan, in Hyderabad on Sunday | A RADHAKRISHNA


CPI state secretary K Narayana on Sunday said  that though widening of roads has helped in cutting down time taken to reach different places, suitable safety measures to control accidents on highways is not taken. “If a vehicle breaks down, it is parked on the road as there is no other place on highways, because of this incidence of accidents is increasing,” said Narayana, speaking at an all party meeting organised by his party on ‘Road accident and private bus operators’ negligence’.The meeting organised by the CPI on Sunday had representatives of Communist party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M)) and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) who discussed the measures that need to be taken to avoid bus incidents such as that of Volvo bus accident at Kothakota, Mahbubnagar.

Pointing out that blaming drivers for all the accidents will not help in finding actual reasons of accidents, Y Venkateswara Rao, state secretariat member, CPI (M) said, “It will not help in-depth analysis of the problem”. He suggested that the APSRTC should run its bus services in areas where there are good chances of generating income.

Family members of the victims who got burnt in the bus accident demanded that bodies of the victims should be handed over to them as soon as possible.  “We immediately reached the accident spot and received the body of my brother Akshay Singh. But when we reached Jadcherla, we got a call from the police that the body should be taken to Osmania hospital. Till now we did not get back the body,” lamented Ashish, brother of Akshay Singh, a software engineer who lost his life in the bus accident.

K Narayana also suggested that apart from the bus operators, government should also provide compensation to victims of bus accidents and that in buses which travel long distances, drivers should not drive for more than four hours and that a traffic police van should regularly patrol highways.



Police plan reflective stickers on bicycles

October 25, 2013

Hindustan Times (Delhi)

Subhendu Ray  

NEW DELHI: The traffic police are planning a drive to paste “retroreflective tapes” on the rear mudguards of the cycles that ply on city roads.



Cyclists can often be seen jostling for space with cars, buses, three-wheelers and commercial vehicles.

This, the force believes, will increase the visibility of cycles in the dark and save cyclists from being mowed down. Around 100 cyclists die in road accidents each year in the Capital.

Around 12 lakh cycles ply on city roads especially in industrial areas and resettlement colonies. Bicycles are the preferred mode of transport for slum dwellers and labourers.

“We will start the drive in a week and deploy special teams in areas where people use bicycles to commute. In the first phase, we will affix one lakh stickers on cycles,” said additional commissioner of police (traffic) Anil Shukla.

Traffic police personnel will stop cyclists on roads and put the stickers on them.

Some of the colonies where the special teams will be deployed to affix stickers include Sangam Vihar, Deoli, Khanpur, Wazirabad, Silampur, Shastri Park, Badarpur, Mangolpuri, Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar at Rohini and Mayapuri.

Till October 15, 67 cyclists had lost their lives in road accidents in Delhi. Last year, 90 cyclists were killed in 89 road accidents.

According to the traffic police, cyclists are the third most vulnerable road users after pedestrians and two-wheeler riders.

Uneven and broken surface of cycle tracks, discontinuation of the tracks, encroachment by makeshift shops and parked cars, pillars on tracks and poor visibility often lead to the deaths of cyclists.

“We are hopeful that the proposal will be accepted and installation of such tapes in bicycles will become mandatory,” said KK Kapila, chairman, the International Road Federation.



Little space for cyclists incity of four-wheelers

October 25, 2013

Hindustan Times (Delhi)   HT Correspondent [email protected]

APATHY Govt has prepared an action plan to encourage people to walk and cycle, but its execution isn’t likely soon


NEW DELHI: Despite frequent fatalities, non-motorised mobility, which essentially involves cycling and walking, has not been a priority for the government.

The government prepared an action plan several years ago to discourage car usage and encourage people to walk and cycle, but it does not look like reaching the execution stage anytime soon.

The urban sprawl of Delhi means increased distances, forcing more and more people to use cars. This has led to the creation of massive carcentric infrastructure.

“Flyovers, signal-free corridors and foot overbridges destroy chances of safe walking and cycling. Even more people are forced to use cars. And the vicious cycle continues,” said Anumita Roychowdhury of Centre for Science and Environment.

“Cyclists are being edged out systematically to make way for cars — sometimes literally,” said a statement from the CSE, whose director-general Sunita Narain was on Sunday hit and injured by a car while she was cycling.

The action plan says: “We need to expand non-motorised transport to reduce automobile dependence through massive expansion in walking and cycling network to improve lastmile connectivity. We need street design guidelines and robust laws to protect pedestrians and cyclists, besides reviewing and implementing the bicycle master plan.”

“The plan which also asks for safety audits of pedestrians and cycling lanes has been put on hold because it also provides for heavy penalty for violations. The political leadership feels its implementation may not be a good idea in an election year,” admitted a senior government official.

In Delhi, a large number of cyclists can be seen every day, jostling for spacewith cars, twowheelers, buses, three-wheelers and commercial vehicles.

“More than 50 per cent of total trips in a day is less than 6km. That means there is a lot of scope and potential to promote cycling,” said Nalin Sinha, a transport expert.

In a city where a large number of people depend on private vehicles to travel shorter distances and to reach bus terminals and Metro stations, cycle and cycle sharing can offer a reliable transport system. But Delhi lacks the basic infrastructure and a conducive atmosphere.

“A fine network of streets, which are only for non-motorised transport, provide shorter connection and cut through the urban fabric,” said Anuj Malhotra, an expert in nonmotorised traffic.

“Providing adequate and safe walking and cycling infrastructure are the primary obligations of city governments and municipal authorities. The government will have to spend only a fraction of its flyover or elevated road budget to develop safe and segregated bicycle lanes and cyclist-friendly infrastructure and facilities in the entire city,” Sinha said.

Delhi registers an average of 100 deaths every year due to road accidents involving bicycles.


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