Road safety: a public health challenge

 

India’s hurried quest for development and its disregard for road safety have resulted in a major public health problem that demands serious thought and action.The majority of the victims are men aged between 15 and 40 and economically active. Road accident injuries often overwhelm emergency and casualty departments of most hospitals, which result in their coping poorly with the patient load. A significant proportion of non-fatal injuries results in traumatic brain damage and substantial disability. Deaths of breadwinners often push families into poverty. The social and economic costs are massive and often difficult to quantify.

Quick-fixes with no master plan: Flyovers and elevated roads dot many major Indian cities. However, these are essentially quick fixes. Most cities do not have long-term master plans for transport and traffic. Ad hoc and non-uniform solutions to local road situations are common.The location of bus stops and traffic lights often leaves much to be desired.There is a basic lack of knowledge of road safety rules among users. Red traffic lights are considered suggestions rather than absolutes.

Driving tests should be made more stringent and should test knowledge in addition to driving skills. They need to be conducted on regular roads. Refresher training and re-testing should be introduced. We should have zero tolerance of underage drivers.

 

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