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Road safety audits will help reduce number of accidents

The Financial Express
If India reduces road accidents by 50%, it may add 14% to its GDP over 24 years. (Representative image)

Every year, 1.5 lakh people die in India because of road accidents, and some 5 lakh suffer serious injuries. Among the many reasons, poor infrastructure and safety protocol are two. The ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH), until 2014, did not have a road safety audit (RSA) mechanism a mechanism which came into being with the World Bank financed initiative, National Highways Interconnectivity Improvement Project. The changes that came about with this were installation of speed reduction methods, improvements in the geometric design for better sight-distance, crash barriers, markings, pedestrian facilities and more.

If India reduces road accidents by 50%, it may add 14% to its GDP over 24 years.

However, RSA and many such governmental efforts fail to yield positive efforts if they are not implemented for a long time. In order to make such audits sustain over time, the MoRTH made certain protocols mandatory for construction. First, it will make sure that RSA happens for all the road projects that cost $800,000 or more. It also made a manual wherein an agency and people involved with the construction can follow step-by-step guidelines for implementing proper RSA. The MoRTH has trained around 2,000 staff with the help of external educational institutions on road safety and road safety audits. Road safety audits also help in ensuring that the contractors are held accountable. In order to do so, MoRTH has drafted contracts wherein contractors have to conduct road safety audits and have a safety consultant on-board. Amongst other mandates, the contract also builds in contractors maintaining a monitoring and evaluation mechanism of the projects. A road safety audit is a significant step for ensuring road safety across India, and if it is implemented at a large scale from national highways to block levels, the number of accidents will surely go down.