Road developers differ with ministry over hazard index

Mamuni Das New Delhi | Updated on January 23, 2018 Published on April 27, 2015

Seek scientific analysis before going infor penalty/incentive system

Highway developers have sought a scientific mechanism to nail the root causes of accidents before going in for a penalty or incentive system.

Reacting to a move by the Highway Ministry and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to put in place a road safety index, the developers said there are several factors beyond the control of the builder or the designing authority that cause accidents. Hence, it is important to sort those issues out first.

The Ministry and NHAI are discussing the idea of developing a tool to measure road safety – called hazard index – based on accidents on highway stretches and accordingly impose penalties or provide incentives system for road developers. India has the dubious distinction of being a top ranker in terms of road accident deaths globally. There were 1.37 lakh road accident deaths in the country in 2013, which translates into an average of one death every four minutes. National highways account for a third of the accident deaths, 29 per cent of injuries and 28 per cent of accidents in India, according to 2013 data.

While welcoming the move to improve safety measures, the developers body, National Highway Builders Federation, has written to the Road Transport and Highways Minister, Nitin Gadkari, Road Secretary Vijay Chhibber and National Highways Chairman RP Singh, pointing out that some of the reasons for accidents are beyond their control.

On the view that faulty road design could lead to accidents, the developers said there are crossroads in rural and urban areas where traffic merges with the NH. This requires building of service lanes along the highways, for which extra land needs to be provided. Also, there is need to build access-controlled highways that allow people only at pre-designated points. They also said that local people tend to create ‘unauthorised and unsafe’ median openings, which are points of frequent accidents.

The developers said negligence by road users – be it drunken driving, speed violations or other traffic violation rules – are not under the control of either the developer or the NHAI.

Similarly, accidents due to vehicle problems such failure of brakes, tyre pressure, steering system, or even environment issues such as fog, heavy rains, cannot be blamed on road developers.

Calling for standardising the process to record accidents, the developers said the data is recorded by State police departments, with no standardised format for black spot analysis. Black spots are areas that record high accidents.

Also, there is a dichotomy between the design of National Highways and vehicle design. The speed limit on NH is 80 kmph – which is proposed to be raised to 100 kmph – while vehicles with speed limit of 200 kmph are plying on these stretches. They also wanted petrol pumps that have access to National Highways – violating the acceleration and deceleration zones as defined by the government – be removed.

Published on April 27, 2015
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