‘Road safety should not be casualty in effort to cut costs'

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 17, 2011

Easing congestion: Work in progress at the new flyover bridge near the Hitech City Railway Station in Hyderabad. — Nagara Gopal

With road accidents resulting in economic loss of an estimated 3 per cent of GDP every year, the Government should re-orient itself to build “safe roads” rather than “cheap roads”. This was agreed upon by experts at an international seminar on ‘National Road Development Strategies and Road Safety on Improved Highways'.

“The Government works on the principle of minimising road building costs. But safety features should not be a casualty in its endeavour to reduce costs,” said Mr A.P. Bahadur, Expert – Public Private Partnership, ADB, and former Chief Engineer, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

Often, incorporating additional safety features increases road construction costs. “At many places, we see steep, unprotected slopes along the highways. Internationally, the standard is to have drivable slopes, which require more land along the roadsides,” said Mr Santosh A. Jalihal, Friscmann Prabhu (India) Ltd.

“Internationally, it is being recognised that roads have to cope up with human failings … The designs have to be such that the damage in case of accidents is minimised,” Mr Bahadur said.

There are many simple steps that can be taken. “Using consistent colour schemes along highways; using signs with pictures, rather than language is a simple measure. How many drivers on the highways can read Hindi and English?” Mr Bahadur asked.

Prof. A.K. Sharma, Director, School of Planning and Architecture, pointed out that the rapid pace of urbanisation coupled with socio-economic change would lead to rapid vehicle ownership within country.

He called for a proper institutional framework to be put in place for accident research and analysis. “There is a need to draft a Road Safety Act wherein all modes using the roads are made accountable.

“In 2009, close to 1.27 lakh (1,26,896) road fatalities were recorded in our country, making it amongst the top accident-prone countries,” Mr B.K. Gupta, Commissioner, Delhi Police, pointed out.


Published on March 16, 2011

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