NEW DELHI: Taking note of high number of deaths on Indian roads — over 1.41 lakh in 2014 — Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to talk about road safety issues in his next Mann ki Baat programme on Sunday. This is for the first time that the country’s highest political executive would take up the issue; something that countries like France, United Kingdom, Denmark and Sweden have done to bring down deaths significantly.
Sources said the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Thursday sought details on the road crashes and safety scenario from road transport ministry. The recent National Crime Records Bureau report of accidental deaths during 2014 showed how Indian roads were at their deadliest. TOI had first reported this on Sunday.
Even the World Health Organization (WHO) in its report on road deaths of 2013 had said the reduction in fatalities has occurred where political will has been translated into concerted and coordinated multi-sectoral actions that are based on evidence. WHO had also evaluated that India scores just three out of 10 points in enforcement of speed limits and scores two out of 10 in enforcement of helmet and seatbelt laws. Only 50% two-wheeler drivers wear helmets, whereas just 27% wear seatbelts.
Welcoming the PMO’s move, International Road Federation chief KK Kapila said the government must pass the road safety law quickly and there has to be greater focus on enforcement besides improving the post-crash care of victims. Road safety expert Rohit Baluja also said that simply setting a target to reduce road deaths won’t be enough and political will must be displayed to define traffic management with accountability and responsibility.