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Old 23rd April 2014, 09:03   #1
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Default Supreme Court charts course for safer roads

'The Hindu' today carried an article with some startling statistics on road accidents between 1970 and 2010.

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Yesterday, the Supreme Court appointed a panel to suggest measures to prevent road accidents and to ensure accountability. Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan, who retires as Supreme Court judge on May 14 will be part of this panel along with S. Sundar, Former Transport Secretary and Dr. Nishi Mittal, formerly HoD, Traffic Engineering and Safety (TES).

According to the report, road traffic accidents in 2010 numbered 4,30,654 resulting in 1,26,896 deaths and serious injuries 4,66,600 that includes amputation of limbs. One serious road accident in the country occurs every minute; and one person dies in a road traffic accident every 4 minutes.

This is another welcome move that we see with respect to improving the travel safety of the general public and sensitizing the issue of road safety. Hope that this time, the subject addresses much wider issues, including road structure, markings, mandated etiquette etc as well, in addition to the normal trivial areas.

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Link to the above report: http://www.thehindu.com/multimedia/a...__1857303a.pdf

Source: http://www.thehindu.com/news/nationa...cle5937723.ece

Last edited by sarathlal : 23rd April 2014 at 09:08.
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Old 23rd April 2014, 09:18   #2
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Default Road safety concern: Supreme court charts course for safer roads.

Interesting move by the apex court. Not sure whether they will have the powers to enforce any of the above. A good starting point is to check the quality of the road when it's being laid. Without that, we are just going to go around in circles on this.
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Old 23rd April 2014, 10:12   #3
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Default re: Supreme Court charts course for safer roads

On the one hand this requires a huge amount of training for everyone involved -- RTOs, police, drivers, road development authorities. On the other hand, traffic etiquette, signage, road markings, etc, are solved problems in other countries -- we just need to import those solutions. Just imposing lane discipline (penalise changing lanes near intersections: if you are in the wrong lane, too bad, you have to stick with that lane and make the wrong turn) would yield a measurable improvement, but for that, you need sensible lane markings on all roads and proper signs well in advance of intersections.

Case in point: a year or so ago they widened the Adyar bridge in Chennai. They didn't widen the road on the two sides. So the inner lane on the bridge just comes to an abrupt halt after you cross the bridge, while the middle lane "becomes" the inner lane. This sort of idiocy has to stop. But the SC can't crack down on every such example all over the country. What it can do is ensure there are clear guidelines to road planning, and recourse that ordinary citizens can take if the guidelines are violated.

The other thing that is necessary is vastly improved public transport. Again, not something the SC can mandate, but without reducing the overcrowding on our roads we cannot improve traffic discipline significantly.
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Old 23rd April 2014, 11:11   #4
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Default re: Supreme Court charts course for safer roads

All sham unless citizens actually get to successfully sue the agency/authority supposed to maintain the respective roads (and/or infrastructure hanging around the roads) and dismiss the concerned officials but because of their failure met with accident/damages/disability/death.

I am sure if such a case arrives at the desk of the "hon" supreme court, today - we shall get justice ... ?


Also what I find extremely funny in this situation is that Supreme court = JUDICIARY arm/pillar of democracy has to do this, whereas this is actually the job of EXECUTIVE arm/pillar (= government and officials under them). Long live democracy in India!

Last edited by alpha1 : 23rd April 2014 at 11:14.
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Old 23rd April 2014, 11:28   #5
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Default re: Supreme Court charts course for safer roads

Quote:
13.2.1 The safety of road users is primarily the responsibility of the State Government
concerned. However, this Ministry has taken several steps to improve road safety for road users
which are as under:
.
.
.
Tightening of safety standards of vehicles like Seat Belts, Power-steering, rear view mirror, etc.
What does power steering have to do with safety? What next? Body colored bumpers?

There's no mention of airbags, ABS, ESC, crash tests, or anything important. They mention improved vehicle crashworthiness, but Global NCAP results suggest otherwise. This is just some way to show they're working, but basically it's just rubbish.

Really hoping the new report recommends better standards and they get enforced.

Last edited by amolbh : 23rd April 2014 at 11:31.
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Old 23rd April 2014, 13:07   #6
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Default re: Supreme Court charts course for safer roads

I also hope the Apex court comes down heavily on any construction of petty shops and buildings on road sides (read that as highways) and blindly pull down all unauthorized structures without any mercy (should be made applicable to places of worship too!).
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Old 23rd April 2014, 14:34   #7
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Default re: Supreme Court charts course for safer roads

This is pointless. Like countless videos show - the general idiocy of our road users is the tsunami we must work to bridge. Just pulling up the civic authorities is solving the wrong part of the problem.

The only way it will work is if the government stops any life insurance payments for anyone killed in a road accident and proven to have flouted rules, as well as criminally charging someone who broke rules, caused an accident and caused grievous injury to someone else.

There's no thousands of traffic policemen overseas. What they have, is a sense of traffic drilled into their heads. We need to educate our road users and enforce discipline - instead of making this into another gravy train of infrastructure spending.
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Old 23rd April 2014, 14:57   #8
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Default re: Supreme Court charts course for safer roads

Quote:
Originally Posted by amolbh View Post
What does power steering have to do with safety? What next? Body colored bumpers?

There's no mention of airbags, ABS, ESC, crash tests, or anything important. They mention improved vehicle crashworthiness, but Global NCAP results suggest otherwise. This is just some way to show they're working, but basically it's just rubbish.

Really hoping the new report recommends better standards and they get enforced.
They should first look at fixing the main cause of accidents which according to me is people not following even the basic rules on the road like driving on the wrong side of the road, jumping signals, driving on the footpath (this has become very common in Bangalore now) etc.

This can be improved only if they change the way the RTO issues driving licenses. Right now, any tom, dick and harry can get a license by paying some agent without knowing any of the rules and sometimes even without know how to drive!
Also, the fines for even dangerous offenses like driving on footpaths/ wrong side of the road is just Rs100 which in places like Bangalore, people are happy to pay and continue doing the same. The fines should be hiked atleast 20 times to make people think twice before breaking the rules.
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Old 23rd April 2014, 16:39   #9
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Default Re: Road safety concern: Supreme court charts course for safer roads.

Quote:
Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
This is pointless. Like countless videos show - the general idiocy of our road users is the tsunami we must work to bridge. Just pulling up the civic authorities is solving the wrong part of the problem.
I'm sorry, Indians aren't more "idiotic" than Italians or Germans or Americans. What we lack is precisely civic authorities, training, enforcement. Ever applied for a driving licence abroad, and been trained and tested for it? What about in India? That's the point. The same "idiotic" Indians are completely capable of obeying rules when driving abroad (look how many taxi drivers we export), and a German who has driven in India for ten years will drive like an Indian. We need (a) massive changes in road infrastructure, especially road signs (made consistent and to international standard and placed everywhere) and lane markings; (b) thorough training, and retraining of all drivers in a transition period, as well as training of the traffic police to know what to watch for; (c) enforcement, including using cameras; (d) up-to-date databases including addresses for registered vehicle owners. It is not difficult, just laborious and expensive (but less expensive than treating accident victims). Other countries do it.
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Old 23rd April 2014, 18:10   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rsidd View Post
I'm sorry, Indians aren't more "idiotic" than Italians or Germans or Americans. What we lack is precisely civic authorities, training, enforcement. Ever applied for a driving licence abroad, and been trained and tested for it? What about in India? That's the point. The same "idiotic" Indians are completely capable of obeying rules when driving abroad (look how many taxi drivers we export), and a German who has driven in India for ten years will drive like an Indian. We need (a) massive changes in road infrastructure, especially road signs (made consistent and to international standard and placed everywhere) and lane markings; (b) thorough training, and retraining of all drivers in a transition period, as well as training of the traffic police to know what to watch for; (c) enforcement, including using cameras; (d) up-to-date databases including addresses for registered vehicle owners. It is not difficult, just laborious and expensive (but less expensive than treating accident victims). Other countries do it.
Agree on a high level but take chennai police on the other hand - your points aren't really valid here in Chennai. It is already at a very decent level - by Indian standards, maybe not American.

I've twice been challaned for minor offences in 6 months in Chennai - the only two times in the last eight years (if you exclude one time I was penalized for running on high beam on chandigarh outskirts on Jan 23, 2009!). Heck - one challan was for just parking on the side of a busy road for 2 min (traffic wasn't even obstructed/lots of bikes were parked)!! That is stricter enforcement than most western countries!

On the other hand, the same policemen do not give a damn when the MTC buses jump red lights nonchalantly, bikers ride like blithering idiots and don't wear helmets. The seat belt drive has fizzled out as well!

However, you can see there are a large number traffic signs in chennai which are totally ignored. The pedestrians are generally very smart - the number who cross on the zebra crossing is far more than DEL/BOM/AHD in my experience. Except they cross even during a green light with a cop watching!

Just simple enforcement of ALL rules (not the current selective implementation) can improve Chennai traffic to an altogether new level. This doesn't need a penny or a moment, but pure willingness. Yes, there will still be a gap vis-a-vis America/West but that can be solved over a few years and a lot more money - but strict enforcement is what we management types call "low hanging fruit!"

Of course, NCR/Delhi will need a lot more holistic effort and spend to get to Chennai's level but that's another story. Though any NCR person will tell you that the traffic cops' performance during the CWG2010 was nothing short of incredible. Maybe they need some stick too, but I'm not so sure!

Last edited by phamilyman : 23rd April 2014 at 18:12.
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Old 23rd April 2014, 22:35   #11
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Default Re: Supreme Court charts course for safer roads

For those who are interested, the judgment authored by Justice Ranjan Gogoi can be read here -- http://sci.nic.in/outtoday/295.pdf

Sometime last monsoon, the Bombay High Court suo moto took up the matter concerning the pathetic condition of roads in Mumbai after one of the judges wrote a note to the Chief Justice. Several presentations were made by Municipal Corporation & others but the matter seems to be in cold storage as it hasn't made any progress after October.
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Old 23rd April 2014, 23:20   #12
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Default Re: Supreme Court charts course for safer roads

Why are we arguing about a news article about a panel being formed? Nothing's been done yet, nothing.

That apart, people like us have been suggesting various remedies to our road infrastructure and traffic sense for a long time on media like these, but they fall on deaf ears. I've lost all hope for traffic reform in this nation.

I don't intend it to be a shameless self plug but I very recently wrote about this frustration on my blog, to quote:
Quote:
When in doubt about any road “rule”, honk and ye shall find an answer. If you’re unsure where to go, honk and someone might appear at your window and tell you where to go. Municipal authorities selected a few streets and painted intermittent white lines that we’re not sure why. Hmm, maybe they are there to let the road-user know they’re still in the correct direction....
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Old 24th April 2014, 12:50   #13
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Default Re: Supreme Court charts course for safer roads

I see something interesting in the 2nd image.

The sales of 2-wheelers in India is about 5 - 6 times higher than that of cars. The fatality rate however is 1.5 times higher.

Something wrong with the chart or are motorcycles safer than cars?
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Old 24th April 2014, 14:24   #14
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I know this is off topic, so apologies upfront, but reading up articles like this, makes me wonder, whether the fact that the Supreme Court judges are Meritocratically determined, has any role to play in the present status that the Supreme Court is instigating or driving most of those decisions which our Democratically elected Government perhaps otherwise should!
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Old 24th April 2014, 16:17   #15
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Originally Posted by roy_libran View Post
I know this is off topic, so apologies upfront, but reading up articles like this, makes me wonder, whether the fact that the Supreme Court judges are Meritocratically determined, has any role to play in the present status that the Supreme Court is instigating or driving most of those decisions which our Democratically elected Government perhaps otherwise should!
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In a well founded democracy, the judiciary has powers to act in the public interest if the executive fails to perform its function. Constitutional posts are 'constitutional' for this purpose.

Citizen activism on a large scale is what is missing from our country.

The kinds of people that are attracted to the power of political office are different from the kind of person who will rise up to be a supreme court judge.
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