Wednesday, 26 December 2018

If Not Now, Then When? The Time to Act is Now!

Glad that you took out time to read this piece amidst the festivities! Hope you had a great Christmas and are planning for a great New Year- 2019!
Am sure, your resolution list would be already brimming with items that reflect your aspirations! If you allow, I would like to add one item to that list. Ok, before we dwell into what that is , let me ask you a question. Have you ever seen a Jumbo Jet?
 Better, ever travelled in one? A Boeing 747 or an Airbus 380 is called as a Jumbo Jet because of their large size. A Jumbo Jet, generally used for inter-continental travel carries not only approximately 400+ people across destinations but carries hopes, aspirations of more than 400+ families for thousands of miles on their next destinations, aims in life!
In the current scenario in India, 400 people lose their lives every day on Indian roads (Does this ring a bell now?). Same like jumbo jets, Indian roads and vehicles help us travel from one location to the other. One destination to next. One aim to the other. But of all those Indians who make these journeys everyday, some 400 of them get lost somewhere in between and put their families on a road of difficulty, pain and suffering. A jumbo jet is losing its way and disappearing in thin air every day!
Of these few die because of their own fault while the rest die because of the fault of others! 20 children under the age of 14 die every day in India, just because of the fault of someone else. The state of affair seems more and more appalling as we dig deeper.
Can you, now, realize the magnitude of the problem? What If I told you, by the time you read this bit, somewhere in India a person would have met with a road-accident and by the time you are done reading this article, one of 4 people would have lost their life. 
How the Problem Has Aggravated
 India signed the Brasilia Declaration in 2010 and agreed to become a party to the nations who agreed to reduce the number of road-crash fatalities by 50% till 2020 however the figure has only been constantly increasing till recently. As we enter into 2019, we look into one of the worst failures of not only the Indian Govt but all of us ever! From approx 75,000+ people in 2010 we lost more than 1.45 lakh people in 2017! The figures have doubled and so has the length and breadth of the problem!
India added more cars to the roads in the last 10 years than most of the EU countries combined but forgot to inherit the driving sense and the required infrastructure to support the burden! As the vehicles increased – the fatalities increased exponentially but no action has been taken!
From problems like potholes, to weaker laws, to weak driving habits, no strict enforcement, lack of strict laws to poor post-accident emergency care, if you start to reason out why we are facing the possibilities of having road-crashes as one of the top-5 reasons for human deaths by 2030 or currently as the leading cause of death for people between 5-29 years of age – the answer lies within.
Did you put your seatbelt today while driving? Did you stop at the red light? Did you ask your friend to be a bit un-cool today and wear that helmet? Did you take a cab after your xmas party and did not drink and drive?
As India faces one of the largest man-made disaster today, its time all of us pledge that we would come together and make sure no more lives are lost to this!

Current Most Important Issue in RS Space: MV Amendment Act 2017
While, we sip our chai in the hot weather, oblivious to the issue of “road-safety”, there has been a long tussle going on in the Indian Parliament related to the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill, 2017.
[ The Motor Vehicle Act, the MV Act 1988 of the Parliament of India regulates all aspects of road transport vehicles but it is being practiced with its own insufficiencies and a lot of aspects that needs to be changed in the current time. This act is currently handling all legal aspects of using any motor vehicle on Indian roads, from driving license to penalties. But certain aspects of the act need to be updated to be relevant in the current time and to make our roads safe]
Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2017, approved by PM Shri Narendra Modi-led Cabinet on Aug, 2017 which aims to reduce the number of road accidents and fatalities resulting from them. In the present Motor Vehicle Act, there are 223 Sections out of which the Bill has tried to amend 68 sections. The making of new provisions in the MV Amendment Act 2017 is to simplify the third party insurance claims and settlement process. The new provision ensures higher penalties and higher compensation for hit and run cases. The Motor Vehicle Bill proposes insertion of 28 new sections. Introductions of these new amendments are to improve road safety and citizens’ ease. They also focus on making the roads and the current road-infrastructure better and better connectivity all around the nation. It focuses on strengthening rural transport automation and computerization, enabling online services too.
The Bill though has already been passed in Lok Sabha but is being deliberated upon in Rajya Sabha which witnessed opposition from many political parties of the opposition and hence is yet to be approved. The parties have brought to fore many issues including but not limited to more power concentrated in hands of the Central Govt than the state govt.
Some important revisions being proposed in the MV (Amendment) Act 2017:
  • For deaths in hit-and-run cases, the government will provide a compensation of Rs 2 lakh or more to the victim’s family. Currently, the amount is just Rs 25,000. 
  • The minimum fine for drunk driving has been increased from Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000. 
  • The fine for rash driving has been increased from Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000. 
  • Driving without a licence will attract a minimum fine of Rs 5,000 as against Rs 500 at present. 
  • The fine for over-speeding will go up from Rs 400 to Rs 1,000-2,000. 
  • Not wearing seatbelt would attract a fine of Rs 1,000 as against Rs 100 at present. 
  • Talking on a mobile phone while driving will attract a fine of Rs 5,000, up from Rs 1,000. 
At this moment, we all need to support the MV (Amendment) Act, 2017 in the present form as though it might have a few downsides – which can be improved subsequently, but if the act is not passed in the current Winter Session of the Parliament, the bill would lapse and then would depend on the next elected government to present in the parliament and implement the same. Hence, it would be again next 2-3 years before we can have the better act implemented to ensure Safer Roads.
Currently, WHO with Indian Road Safety Campaign, Solve are running a campaign that can motivate the MPs in Rajya Sabha to show their support towards the act and help its passage! To do your bit for the same, please sign the petition here: 

Why We All Need to Come Together
Road-safety like other major public health issues is a multi-sectoral issue and needs each and every-one to come together so that we can completely eradicate this problem. From healthcare to law, from engineering to design, from policy making to enforcement, from 80 year old to a school going kid- everyone needs to do their bit to make Indian Roads Safer!
If we need to make our roads safe, each one of us needs to follow rules! There are instances where a drunk driver ramps into a car being driven properly carrying a family – killing everyone. There are instances where young kids are crushed by high-speed vehicles near schools. All of us are equally important to make safe roads and safer ecosystem. The parents needs to follow traffic rules to set better examples infront of their kids, the PWD dept and authorities need to develop better roads and immediate remediation of potholes). Additionally, the post-accident emergency care needs to ramp up, the roads need to have better design, the enforcement needs to be better and stricter and there needs to be wide-spread awareness about the issue.
Like passage of the MV (Amendment) Act, which can only be passed if everyone in the Indian Parliament is united and comes together irrespective of their political affiliations, at each and every step of this journey, we need to come together and act for the cause.
 Can I Do Something to Change the Scenario?
Yes, absolutely! Road-safety like any other social problem is an issue where humans are the problems and solution themselves. Let us not let even one death go unnoticed. In the current scenario, one death is considered insignificant and too many deaths become a statistic. We together need to come together and change this perception. A death, a human death should not be insignificant and we all need to make sure no further lives are lost on Indian roads.

What can a simple person do? Answer: a lot. I have enlisted few ways in which we all can do our bit to make Indian roads safe:
  1. Drive Safely and follow traffic rules
  2. Always put up a Safety Gear (Helmet/Seat-Belt)
  3. Provide first aid to Accident Victims
  4. Report an Accident and help them reach Hospital within the Golden Hour
  5. Help the Administration in Resolving Infra Issues by Reporting Them via available channels
  6. Appreciate Good Behavior and Motivate People to Follow Traffic Rules

Above listed methods are those which can easily change the scenario of road-safety in India without any time-taking effort or major initiative from all citizens. If all of us pledge today, that we would make a sincere effort towards Safer Roads, we would be able to achieve the target of reducing 50% fatalities by 2020 and aim for zero deaths due to road-accident fatalities by 2030.
At this moment in India, we need more and more youths to don the hat of being a road-safety crusader, join the existing task-force near you or create your own army – and gear up to solve one of the most pressing issues facing man-kind today!  One person, one act can start something that can change the world!
Are you ready to do your bit?
Hope – Following Traffic Rules has made to your New Year Resolution List! And make this resolution the one that stands out, is followed day in and day out unlike all those resolutions till date!
Wish you all a very Happy and Safe New Year!

#HarEkZarroriHai #HumseFarakPadtaHai #MeraBharatSurakshitBharat #Let’sTogetherMakeIndianRoadsSafer


For people who strive to do more using their skill-sets, we at Indian Road Safety Campaign, have plethora of opportunities for you to contribute. Come, visit: today and register with us to make Indian Roads Safer!