UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis | 16 May 2022

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What the article is about?

  • Talks about the concerns associated with road safety and way ahead.

Syllabus: GS-III Issues relating growth and development, employment

Road safety:

  • Every year, mega Indian cities witness nearly 50,000 accidents.
  • A quarter of them are fatal. More than half of these are on account of over speeding and a quarter due to dangerous driving. Nearly half of those who lose their lives are pedestrians. Almost half of these avoidable deaths are due to collisions with buses and trucks.  

Case study- Delhi:

  • In the case of New Delhi, road deaths peaked in 2009.
    • Since then, they have gradually tapered despite burgeoning numbers of vehicles.
    • This improvement came on the back of commendable interventions by the Delhi Police on black spots, traffic calming measures, and enhanced enforcement.
  • The Delhi government has now initiated a drive to enforce lane discipline, starting with strict compliance on the bus lane.
    • This required a reorientation in approach by all road users. Buses, like big bullies, hitherto had a free run. Now, deviations from the lane invite harsh penalties.
  • Trials over the last one month have thrown up several lessons.
    • First, it would be useful to look at the skill sets of Indian drivers.
      • Delhi now has automated driving test centres, which have reduced the margin of human intervention. Consequentially, failure rates (about 40%) are far higher than other cities .
      • Perhaps an additional step of mandatory simulator tests and psychological evaluation could be embedded in the regulatory framework- more so for drivers of heavy transport vehicles.
    • The second aspect is the amenability of road design to accommodate all users fairly.
      • Clearly, our roads need to make spaces for all users- pedestrians/cyclists, buses, other vehicles-and designate pick-up and drop-off points for taxis and auto rickshaws.
      • A pilot stretch has been redesigned collaboratively with IIT Delhi.
    • Enforcement of traffic discipline involves multiple agencies- the road-owning agency, the municipal body, the traffic police and the transport enforcement wing.
      • Technology tools and deploying artificial intelligence would introduce necessary deterrence for traffic violations. 

Conclusion

  • The propensity of people to use personal vehicles instead of public transport also adds to the chaos.
    • Delhi has the highest per capita registration of personal vehicles- nearly 110 cars per 1,000 people, as against a national average of 25.
  • At one level, there is a need to introduce Mobility as a Service (MaaS) solutions, which integrate all options of public mobility on a common digital platform.
  • A government-backed digital aggregator of all mobility options would make public transport more efficient and provide inbuilt solutions for last-mile and first-mile connectivity. 



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