In the rapidly advanced and growing world roads and transportation are now essential components of every human being. Everyone uses the roads in some capacity. The present transport system has minimized the distances but it has on the other hand increased the life risk. Although the current transportation system has reduced travel times, on the other hand, it has increased the risk of fatalities. Road accidents claim thousands of lives every year.
Right to life and safe transportation is the necessity of all individuals so to ensure safe and comfortable commute several schemes have been launched by the government of India that will promote indigenous use of the best technology in vehicles that will, in turn, provide work opportunities to original equipment manufactures (OME’s) by focusing on world-class automobile technology and development in road infrastructure to reduce the incidents of road accidents.
The development of any country refers to enhancing people’s welfare via social, political, and economic upliftment by investing in human and physical infrastructure such as improvement in income and education levels as well as infrastructure such as utilities, transport, telecommunication, etc. Transportation plays an essential role in overall development by linking the global economy. However, according to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH), eighty thousand people are killed every year in road accidents accounting for 13% of world fatalities.
With the grave need to work for the safety of people, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highway launched an indigenous star rating system for crash-testing cars under the umbrella of the Bharat New Car Assessment Policy (BNCAP) which will be implemented from October 1, 2023. It will be our voluntary system under which vehicles will be assigned ratings between one to five stars indicating their safety in a collision.
- Introduction of Bharat NCAPis considered to be a landmark step that will empower consumers to make informed decisions while purchasing a car.
- Bharat NCap will commence from October 1,2023 based on Automatic Industries Standard (AIS)197 which will aim to create an ecosystem of competitive safety enhancements leading to a rise in awareness of consumers.
- Automobile manufacturers will voluntarily participate and then nominate base model cars for crash tests that will be performed as per the protocols that will be mentioned in Automotive Industries standard 197.
- Star ratings on a scale of (0-5) given with 0 standing for no safety and 5 as the safest, will be provided based on the parameters of adult occupant protection, child occupant protection, and safety assistant technologies present in the car.
- This test will be applicable to only passenger vehicles (type approved vehicles of category M1) with the necessity to be manufactured or imported in the country with a maximum of eight seats and a driver seat along with motor vehicle weight to be less than 3.5 tons.
- A Dedicated Agency will be appointed to carry out the test that will randomly choose a vehicle of the manufacturer for crash testing and the burden of that will be borne by the manufacturers.
India is the home to the second largest road network in the world and serves as a lifeline nation for transporting over 64.5% of all goods within the country in addition to being preferred by more than 90% of India’s passenger traffic, Reference Division of Parliament Library and Reference, Research, Documentation and Information Service (LARRDIS). Despite all this, according to MORTH, India accounts for 13% of road fatalities due to road accidents because of speeding, use of mobile phones, drunken drivers, overloaded vehicles, etc. Hence, a qualitative and quantitative development of road infrastructure is required along with safety measures. So BNCAP is a promotional step in this direction as –
(i) It provides public safety by helping consumers make an informed choice before purchasing a car.
(ii) According to World Bank due to Road crashes India witnessed a GDP loss of about 5-7%. Hence for economic development investment in road infrastructure is required.
(iii) Due to accidents, there are social and gender impacts as well, as poor households bear a higher proportion of the socio-economic burden of road crashes due to loss of income according to World Bank Report, (70% of crash victims are from poor households). It also stated that women have to face the indirect burden of road accidents as males are more likely to die in accidents as compared to females.
Government Initiatives for the Road Safety
With the ambition to reduce road accidents, several measures have been taken at the International, National, State and Local levels such as –
- Adoption of the National Road Safety Vision for 2030 i.e. decade of action for road safety that aims to reduce road traffic deaths by at least 50% with the help of a global plan along with UN Road Safety Collaboration.
- Implementation of the Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill 2019, which is structured for better management at the time of accident via Good Samaritans, National Transportation Policy, etc.
- Introduction of a Scrappage Policy that aims to phase out old passenger and commercial vehicles that will enhance the quality of a vehicle.
- Execution of systematic surveys of Road Infrastructure and Engineering on highways e.g.Tamil Nadu government launched GIS-based Data Collection along with the introduction of maps of Road crashes that will help in identifying hotspots at the time of accidents, Gujarat adopted an empowered road safety authority mechanism etc.
The Right to life and safety is a fundamental right of every citizen. But road accidents are leading to death, disabilities, and injuries that require medical intervention along with renowned social impetus and robust safety mechanisms from multiple stakeholders and road safety should be considered a public health and not a transportation issue.
A dedicated Agency should be formulated to look into the management capability for road safety that should work along the four pillars of road safety i.e. management, infrastructure, safe vehicles, and road user behavior along with post-crash care. Joint Partnerships of both the government and private sector along with the introduction of innovative initiatives such as the Bharat New Car Amendment Policy can help us to curb the life-threatening risk of road accidents.
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Bhanvi is a Visiting Researcher, IMPRI.
Acknowledgment: Acknowledgment: The author would like to thank Nandu S Nair and Aasthaba Jadeja for their kind comments and suggestions to improve the article.
Disclaimer: All views expressed in the article belong solely to the author and not necessarily to the organization.
This article was published by Chaitanya Deshpande, a Research Intern at IMPRI