Jan 2, 2012

Need for new strategic intervention to reduce transport accident and casualties

By – Anoop Jha

They need to understand the difference between luxury and necessity!!

Who do you think should feel responsible for those accidents in fog-ridden winter days, Is it fault of drivers, is the fog itself to blame, is it casual traffic monitoring and operation, is it lack of proper signage at critical road locations, is it implementation loophole or is it unequipped vehicle which makes it vulnerable as sitting duck in the low visibility of fog? Though each of these components are crucial in safe and efficient transportation there are some easy fix to curb the traffic accident which transport governing agencies either have failed to understand or have ignored them.  They have failed to understand the difference in the luxury and necessity.  They have also failed to understand the priority in transport planning and management. 

Intervention at production & supply level
Take for example a very small component of transport domain called “vehicle fog light”.  Most of us will agree that fog light of car can be a life saving component in winters, it can help avoid a majority of accidents which occurs on the roads across the India every year though majority of cars and other vehicle miss this vital component. If you think you are a smart guy just because you have already installed fog light in your car, you are wrong. You are not safe till every vehicle on road has this fog light installed, and there is no doubt if every vehicle on road would be equipped with fog-light it will drastically reduce the winter road accident rates. But question is though it sounds good to have fog light in every car on road how would you make that happen? Do you think a stringent rule or policy will help? May be stronger implementation or monitoring? A higher penalty may be? Though it might work in certain pockets, but it will certainly not work throughout the country. Commuters have and will always find a way to avoid these traffic rules no matter it’s for their own safety. They will wait every foggy year to pass thinking that its matter of few days and they will get fog light installed next winter unaware that these few days which they are purposefully ignoring can be vital for their survival and well being of others on road.

What about those lives lost on road due to lack of life saving devices and equipments which should be part and parcel of every car including lowest segment cars,  though it was absent at the time of accident which would have saved those precious lives otherwise, just because government and lobby of car manufacturers thought that these are luxury items and this choice should be left at the will of  end users who are either totally unaware of these vital life saving devices and equipments or they already  have other immediate financial priorities which makes is easy to forget the relevance of it.

Here, the definition of luxury and necessity is not clear. What government thinks as a luxury item like fog light and life saving car devices is actually necessity to curb the road accident and to save life.  If government will leave these vital choices at the consumer end or at the will of end user, they will certainly fail to implement it across the system or proposed region due to sheer number of users. Though it is much easier for government to control and implement policies at the manufacturer or service providers end, like car manufacturers and suppliers.  How can a government or transport regulatory body allow a single car without equipped with these life saving devices, extreme weather lighting like fog-light, emergency communication devices, first aid kits, etc. to enter into the country or market? 

All that a government or transport regulatory body has to do is to add a simple rule into the rule book of car and vehicle trade at manufacturer’s end that “No manufacturer will be allowed to launch any car or vehicle model of any segment in market without these life saving devices”. If these devices are mandatory part of the car package and capital cost consumer will definitely buy them but if left to their choice majority of them will definitely won’t care to install them. Some kind of acceptable pricing arrangements can always be done, but there should not be any compromise on quality of product which can prove vital for life.Old transport strategies need to be reviewed time to time as well as new and innovative strategies need to be formulated for sustainable urban transport and for a safer future.  
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