A DEDICATED AGENCY TO BE IN PLACE FOR BETTER TRANSPORT AND ROAD SAFETY SYSTEM-Prof. Geetam Tiwari
In an exclusive conversation with Kriti Nath Jha – Governance Today, Prof Geetam Tiwari shares her views on Road Safety and emphasized on a dedicated agency to address the urgent need of better and improved roads, focusing more on pedestrians and cyclists and integration of all modes of transport.
Q: India doesn’t rank good in terms of road safety, having had more road fatalities than any other country in the recent years, even though the vehicle population here is a mere fraction of what leading economies have. Your views on this!
A: These are serious issues here.. Over the years increasing numbers of car have been a disturbing trend .It has been increasing 6-7 percent right now and has increased 4-5 percent during the last couple of years. And it continues to increase is a major worry. We need more and better roads, but it didn’t happen. We should have our priority to improve road system, building roads with improved design
compatibility. Good alignment for road design is critical in the effort to balance the needs and compatibility on adjacent land… and align the vertical and horizontal position of the road to protect…As we become richer; number of people dying on roads is increasing. So we have to take concerted and sustained efforts that are required to curb this grave public health problem.
Q: How do you see sudden rise in safety awareness among Indian car-makers that safety features like dual airbags and antilock braking systems (ABS) will be made mandatory in all new models.While from October 2019, all cars currently in production will be required to meet these standards?
A: Car industry is adopting the norms for safety as per the government’s regulations what the car manufactures have gone for installing safety features like dual airbags and antilock braking system as it has become mandatory after the regulations come from the government. In India, the government’s regulations to be in sync with the European or International standards—required for safety. So ensuring road safety, the role of the government becomes all important.
Q: Do you think that the Union Government’s efforts to bring a Road Safety and Transport Bill would make Speed Governors mandatory in commercial vehicles and help in curbing the road accidents on Indian roads?
A: We have seen many states have opposed these regulations citing various reasons for implementation of road safety. But we need a dedicated agency for the road safety. Which would oversee and monitor the road standard, vehicle standard. There are needs for sustained efforts and it should come from the government’s end with a dedicated budget and adequate staff and recommendations and having experts in that very agency.Unless we have dedicated agency assigned to collect and analyse data, we could ensure safety for roads in our cities. Only after doing this we can involve other stakeholders.
Q: How do you view the policies should be in place to deal with the severe pollution problems and that will actually make our cities healthier and better places to live in will have to be less-car centric ?
A: Pollution has an adverse impact on health. But it is not only transport but other sources like construction works and industrial units are too responsible for killing air. All these sources are to be addressed while planning to control pollution. Since all of these sources are responsible, so not a particular source should be targeted. The government should keep various modes of transport to address
the issue of problem and more focus should be given on pedestrian infrastructure, Without this we can’t
imagine safer and healthier public transport system in our cities.
Q: There is an urgent need to ensure better coordination among various authorities like Federal, States and Locals and integrate activities of the traffic police and RTOs to effective implementation of the policies, especially related to the road safety in a digital age. Your views on this!
A: These kinds of efforts are required with improved data system in place. Every agency has its task cut out, but hey need to act in tandem dedicated agency for road safety is need of hour and other agencies are to be involved into it. And it should be set up at both state and national level.
Q: How pedestrians and cyclists could be made safer on the streets as they always remain at receiving end in every plan and policy takes shape for the road governance?
A: The pedestrian should be focused in planning for the road in a prioritied manner. Cyclists are to be promoted for cleaner, healthier and sustainable transport system and all raods like arterial roads, small roads and further smaller roads have a speed limit of 50 KM, 30 KM and 10 KM respectively for coming traffic. Car parking have to be regulated and pedestrian parks to be in place. But in Delhi, only New Delhi has pedestrian parks and the cars and other four wheelers have taken away major portion of the roads in the cities. The new parking policy in Delhi has been prepared, but it is to be seen how it is going to be implemented and come out with desired result.
Q: Is Mass Rapid Transport system a panacea for all our commuting woes?
A: No..not at all. I don’t think so. Mass Rapid Transport is not a solution for our mass transport woes. Around 50 -55 percent people walk or use bicycles and other use buses and private vehicles. Mass transport,which major chunk is shared by Metro is for long distances to cover in big cities. Even in Delhi for over 200 KM,it has not completely addressed the transport problems. Other modes like buses and bicycles also to be integrated with Metro system. As Metro is more capital-intensive and it has not been able to solve the traffic woes in the cities