Improving infrastructure could reduce road accident fatalities: Akshy Sridhar

Mangaluru City Corporation Commissioner Akshy Sridhar on Wednesday said the need of the hour to ensure road safety was to improve infrastructure for vehicles and pedestrians and strengthen the existing policy by effective documentation.

He was speaking at a technical session on ‘Impact of infrastructure as a challenge’ at a divisional-level consultation on generating demand for effective implementation of Indian Motor Vehicles Act (MVA), 2019.

The programme was organised by Public Affairs Foundation (PAF) and Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS), Bengaluru, here.

Mr. Sridhar said the MVA placed more weightage on regulatory aspects than developmental ones thereby suffering setback. The system forgets what should be done immediately to avoid accidents in the future. Whether enough researches were done by road engineers at the Indian Road Congress that specifies road designs to address recurring challenges, he wondered.

The Commissioner said creation of cycling lanes on city’s lanes and by-lanes could reduce burden on trunk roads. Strengthening the public transport system and adequate pedestrian infrastructure could reduce road fatalities.

Inaugurating the programme, Deputy Commissioner K.V. Rajendra said behavioural change was required among drivers and pedestrians to avoid mishaps. There should be constant acceptance of changes made to introduce effective enforcement and implementation. Road safety awareness should start at the primary school levels by making it part of the curriculum.

CUTS director George Cheriyan in his introductory address said the Act for the first time has a clause for accountability of the authority bestowed with the power to engineer and design roads; this also includes 63 clauses for enhanced penalties. He said 93% of world road accidents occur in developing countries with India’s share being at 11%. Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways report said 1,51,113 deaths were caused by road accidents in 2019; speeding and reckless driving being the prime causes of accidents. Nearly half of the victims were aged between 18 and 35, he said.

In Karnataka though there was reduction in road accident deaths of drivers, fatalities of pedestrians has increased in the last five years, he said.

PAF Executive Director Annapoorna Ravichandar spoke.

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