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Old 6th October 2018, 15:24   #1
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Default Crowdsourcing ideas to reduce accidents - I'm helping the District Administration

Hello everyone,

Greetings!

I currently have an opportunity to work with the administration. I would request the learned members here to help me with reducing the number of accidents along NH53.

A brief about my role:

I am currently working as a Consultant under the District Collector in the Mahasamund District (CG). My work profile entails working with multiple departments at the district level.

The problem statement:

A part of NH 53 runs from the Mahasamund block into the Saraipali block, both of which lie in the district which has a total of five blocks. This four-lane highway is maintained in an excellent condition, and the average speed ranges from 80-120 kmph for most cars.

The issue is that this highway has bifurcated many villages and many villages have expanded as a linear settlement along the highway. The villagers and animals tend to cross the highway multiple times in a day, which is inevitable in such cases. The problem is compounded by the low level of awareness about road safety present among the villagers and the drivers. I am trying to source some authoritative statistics about the number of accidents, but it is going to be difficult as they are present with multiple departments and across multiple hierarchies.

I present before this super forum an opportunity to suggest some ideas so as to bring about a fall in the number of accidents. I would like to put together these ideas into a few action points, so that they can be monitored. As we all are equal stakeholders, I will be helping out the Team-BHP community with implementation and monitoring of our ideas.

The Way Forward:

We have to look at this issue from multiple angles like
1. How to reduce the number of accidents in the short-run,
2. How to bring about a behavioral change in the residents of villages lying along NH53,
3. How to reduce the number of cattle present on the road?
4. Any other insights defined by the community.

For example, we can request the Education Department to run some road-safety specific IEC activities in the schools along these villages. But, we need to define the content, how to engage the children, and so on. Similarly, we can engage with any department, including the Police, NH, PWD, for our action plan.

So, the idea is to define a few problem statements, and a few actionable to address them. We can also explore the possibility of some volunteering like conducting some activity at the schools.

Caveat:

Please bear in mind that working with the government is a slow, tedious task. There are multiple challenges like the lack of availability of funds, motivating the field staff, ensuring participation from the stakeholders. I request all to be patient with this initiative.
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Old 6th October 2018, 15:46   #2
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Default re: Crowdsourcing ideas to reduce accidents - I'm helping the District Administration

My 2 cents-
1. Driver awareness as a strategy can be effective when the same drivers use the same stretch of highway often. (Frequently buses and truck drivers on regular routes)
2. However, this is rarely the case.(for private car users)
3. Many times accidents are due to the new driver + road combination.

In this situation, there are 2 solutions:
1. Infrastructural changes (magic box at each village, and barricades in heavily populated areas to minimise jay walking and animals on the road)
2. Behavioural changes in the population via improvement in road safety awareness among the villagers.
3. Each village with the road passing through it can be incentivised to be safe while using/crossing the road.

I hate to say it, but many times, the best way to improve road safety is to get the villagers who have frequent usage of the road to be careful rather than hope an occasional user will be aware of all the details.

Surely, in an ideal world drivers should be more careful, but the best way to lower accidents could be more alert local populations.
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Old 6th October 2018, 16:01   #3
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Default re: Crowdsourcing ideas to reduce accidents - I'm helping the District Administration

Very nice to hear from you, and to see engagement in such a manner. I agree that solving the problem is extremely hard, but instead of throwing up our hands and giving up, it is definitely nice to see an attempt being made.

Fundamentally, there is a conflict. Yeah, like you needed me to point that out

The conflict is, a village - and its occupants - occupy an area, and a road cuts through that area in getting from point A to point B. Which means that when those villagers live and move around in that area, they are obviously going to cross the road.

It would be helpful to know what sort of traffic is expected. Just people/elders crossing? Animal herds like goats? Tractors pulling crops? Each of them face different risks from vehicles on the road, and pose different threats to vehicles on the road.

If it is people and herds, then it would be good to see if the NHAI can assist in providing underpasses (i.e. magic boxes) where the terrain is suitable, for people/herds/two-wheelers/autos to cross the road safely without crossing that flow of traffic.

Larger vehicles like tractors will have to use the highway (due to size and weight constraints) but enforcement on them should be strict - they are after all commercial vehicles driven by professional drivers, and must therefore be held to a far higher standard.

Stray cattle - the only safeguard is fencing both the sides of the highway, as well as the median (which has tasty plants!), and giving them the means of crossing via underpasses.

The other thing that often causes an intersection of people is the prevalence of shops selling tea, juice, fruits, cigarettes, food, etc. This cannot be avoided or banned - it is simple supply and demand. However, what could be done is instead of letting these shops come up willy-nilly, the administration sets apart a rest stop type of area, with adequate parking, and floor space on rent to vendors. That should ensure that vehicles have pre-defined places to stop for breaks.

Education would be nice, as well. It would be quite eye-opening to illustrate - for example - the braking distance of a car travelling at a legal 80 km/h vs. a speed that villagers might travel at on non-highway roads (e.g. 40 km/h, which can feel fast on a moped).

For instance, the time & distance taken for a car to come to a halt, vs. the time taken for a slightly elderly person to cross just half the highway (i.e. median to one side).

Likewise, this should also underscore the need for people to check well ahead for approaching vehicles before making manoeuvres like crossing lanes of traffic in a vehicle, or making a U-turn.

Enforcement of certain egregious violations (driving on the wrong side, for example, or reversing on the highway) should also be brought about for all - not just the residents of the villages, but also the motorists on the highway.
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Old 6th October 2018, 22:52   #4
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Default re: Crowdsourcing ideas to reduce accidents - I'm helping the District Administration

You have mentioned that you work with the Collector but your role as a consultant is not clear. Is this initiative in your professional or personal capacity?

While such efforts by private citizens is always welcome, what is not clear is the Collector's role in this. These bureaucrats are well paid and perked guests of the government. What are they doing about the accidents on the highway? Why don't they have all this data collated already? What have they done about it and what have they taken up with the various departments involved?
Highways cut through towns and villages all over the country; what are the solutions that have been identified at higher levels?
The sad thing about this nation is that there are some good people but a huge number of Government servants are being allowed to get away with routine answers.
'Helping' the Collector is actually helping him claim these successes in his annual report without any effort. He has immense resources at his disposal... unfortunately he only uses the cars and guess houses
Why not ask him about his efforts so far in this direction.
I am speaking out because I am a Government servant too.
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Old 7th October 2018, 11:31   #5
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Default re: Crowdsourcing ideas to reduce accidents - I'm helping the District Administration

The best way to begin would be strict enforcement of traffic rules. It'll bring solutions overnight. For more longer-term thinking, education & awareness etc., but for now, start off with hefty penalties & zero tolerance for offenders.

What solved the drunk driving problem in Mumbai? Jail. What solved overspeeding on the Bandra-Worli sealink? Speeding cameras. Believe it or not, after this initiative, I have seen cars actually stopping *before* the zebra crossing. When was the last time you saw this in India?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fiestarry View Post
While such efforts by private citizens is always welcome, what is not clear is the Collector's role in this. These bureaucrats are well paid and perked guests of the government.
Moderator Note: No more off-topic posts please. Kindly stick to the topic, which is offering suggestions. Thank you!
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Old 7th October 2018, 12:08   #6
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Default Re: Crowdsourcing ideas to reduce accidents - I'm helping the District Administration

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abhineet Singh View Post
The issue is that this highway has bifurcated many villages and many villages have expanded as a linear settlement along the highway. The villagers and animals tend to cross the highway multiple times in a day, which is inevitable in such cases.
In theory, educating the villagers about to cross a highway safely and ensure that their livestock don't wander across the road etc would be the most logical solution. Underpasses and over bridges should be provided so villagers have an safe, alternate pathway.

Of course, this is one of those easy to say and extremely hard to do statements. It is like saying all that is required for our country to become litter free is to educate everyone to be responsible about where they dump their garbage.

I would therefore like to suggest a slightly offbeat approach with the following three benefits
1) Quick to implement
2) Easy to measure effectiveness
3) (Potentially) Low implementation costs

What if a large billboard with a graphic image of a bad road accident is erected just before the entry of the village? Right below this billboard you could have a sign saying "speed checking zone starts. Speed limit 60kmph"(or whatever limit is practical).A clearly visible police jeep could be parked a few hundred meters from the sign.

The graphic image itself could psychologically induce the motorist to slow down. For the diehard (no pun intended) speed demon, the threat of a fine could bring about the necessary moderation.

You could also experiment by only keeping the jeep in two out of the five village locations. It might be interesting to see whether just the sign itself might do the job.

This idea is heavily influenced by two of Richard Thaler's books - "Nudge" and "Misbehaving".
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Old 7th October 2018, 12:32   #7
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Default Re: Crowdsourcing ideas to reduce accidents - I'm helping the District Administration

One suggestion I can provide is multiple under-passes made with pre-fabricated box sections. Like how the Railways added one pass recently without remove the track above.

I believe this would be the best option. Once these are in place, just isolate the highway with no access from the sides to the other side, for atleast a kilometre before and after the villages.

Will cost a bit, but should work faster than trying to educate them and making them follow rules you and I see are "for their safety"
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Old 7th October 2018, 13:38   #8
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Default Re: Crowdsourcing ideas to reduce accidents - I'm helping the District Administration

Nothing works as well as punishments. I wonder if it is possible to have a roving squad of highway patrol cars and staff. They should have speed guns and should have high quality dashcams. They can document, with incontrovertible proof, instances of lane indiscipline, overspeeding and rash driving. They can also fine overloaded commercial vehicles, CVs without working brake lights/indicators.



In particular, indiscriminate parking by the highway can be discouraged via fines, enough warning can be provided that slow vehicles must stick to the left lane and that the right lane is not for traveling and is for overtaking only.


The solutions given by me, in my opinion, would eliminate a majority of accidents. The above measures would also help the administration breakeven on the costs of men and machines for the highway patrol, while normatively ensuring that road users toe the line.


Caveat: Road accidents in India are a culmination of a complex problem, a problem with too many contributing causes. Cattle, dogs, people on foot, crossing traffic, broken roads, debris on roads, the misuse of vegetation as highway medians, non-existent medians, slow CVs and 2 wheelers interspersed with fast vehicles etc. are some of the vexing and inescapable causes of accidents that continue to take away our lives.
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Old 7th October 2018, 20:49   #9
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Default Re: Crowdsourcing ideas to reduce accidents - I'm helping the District Administration

First of all my appreciation and best wishes to your efforts.

My 2Cents:

1. Understand which part of the section of road (under your purview) is facing regular accidents/near-miss scenarios. What kind of vehicles plays a major role in the traffic? (Scenario changes based on whether if its truck or private vehicular traffic)
2. Talk to the Toll/Emergency assistance people, they will give you the ground reality.
3. What are the entry/exit points? how many are there? How well are they marked? How long is the exit lane? Is there a seperate lane for traffic coming from the side lanes into the highway? Are they night-proof?
4. Blind curves, Exits/entry points that are not easily identifiable?
5. How far is the next police/rescue stations located? Where is the nearest hospital located?
6. How often do the highway patrol go around on the highways? Speed cameras? Highway cameras? Toll gates? Road signs? speedbreakers?
7. Quality of roads?What are the possible alternate routes available to circumvent this whole highway section itself? Are they well marked?
8. How much of the village population use the highway? How many see the highway as a problem?
9. How many hotels/Dhabas are enroute? where are they located? How good is their entry and exit points? Markings?
10. Advertisement hoardings en route? Any other cause of distraction? Tourist locations nearby?

Based on the above information we can draw a picture of the scenario you find yourself in. As you start answering the above questions and more from other members, I am sure you yourself will get a fair idea of what to do.

Categorically my response would contain following:

a. Improvement (existing infrastructure)
b. Upgradation (quality)
c. Enforcement (rules, road crossings, cattle and signs)
d. Legality/punishment/consequence (police checks, speed checks, tolls)
e. Prevention (patrolling, cameras, signage, illumination, wrong way protection etc.)
f. Protection/assistance (presence of support personnel (police/ambulance/etc)
g. Aid/support (medical/mechanical etc)
h. Amenities (hotels, eateries, layovers etc)
i. Good will (with villagers/villages)
j. etc..

IMHO, us blindly giving you random suggestions won't help you solve the real issue. We can give only hypothetical "ideal" scenario solutions, better would be if you can give us some real numbers and statistics to work on. We are anyways a community of motorists and I believe you can share the data(as much as the rules will allow you to share) to garnish more informed responses from our side.

Last edited by AlphaKilo : 7th October 2018 at 20:56.
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Old 12th October 2018, 11:29   #10
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Default Re: Crowdsourcing ideas to reduce accidents - I'm helping the District Administration

Effective Barricading at strategic places would help ? When I say EFFECTIVE, I mean barbed wire etc. won't work. Try to imagine barricades similar to the barriers installed on Mumbai flyovers as an example.
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Old 12th October 2018, 12:25   #11
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Default Re: Crowdsourcing ideas to reduce accidents - I'm helping the District Administration

I checked on GMaps and the stretch that you are talking about seems to be around 120 kms long. Am I correct? Quite a long stretch, much longer than the Mumbai-Pune expressway.

Since you mentioned lack of funds and other issues, barricading the entire stretch does not make sense.

Under passes might work with regular traffic. But no cow herd/goat herd is going to herd the animals all the way to an underpass if an easy crossing is available nearby. You will need far too many of them for them to serve the purpose, and additionally, have some means of preventing people from crossing directly. Again, this involves additional expenditure apart from dealing with diggerent cogs in the govt machinery.

Same goes for pedestrian bridges. No Indian will climb a flight of stairs to cross a road, if there is nothing preventing him from running across the road. Even if he is standing right next to it, he will not use it. Imagine expecting him to use an over bridge a few hundred metres away! He might use it on the day of inauguration, for it's novelty. Next time he climbs the stairs will be to stick some political bills, sleep undisturbed and stuff like that. Again, need far too many bridges for this to work.

Hoardings and warning boards don't work with Indians either. They hardly pay attention to these.

In my opinion, the only way is to involve the local villagers in YOUR endeavour to make THEIR roads safer.

1. Distribute pamphlets with basic information and instructions to create awareness.

2. Hold meetings with the village heads to find out what they think. Where they would like to have an underpass or a bridge. If you build them on their suggestions, tell them some responsibility lies on their shoulders to ensure the villagers use the facilities. Ask them to give you suggestions to make it safer for them. Have a contest with incentives for best suggestions and stuff like that. Make them feel part of the process.

3. Children. Children can be easily educated and they in turn propagate the information more efficiently within their homes and their neighbors. They can be easily influenced in a good way. Hold talks with audio visuals in their schools. Educate them. Have Q&A sessions. They love it. Have a drawing contest for them and ask them to draw what they feel, is a safe road. It will have a huge impact. You can even ask them to involve their parents in some related home work.

4. I hate to say this, but have WELL MARKED (for both day and night) speed breakers at the most vulnerable locations.

5. Improve policing if the resources are available. If not, work towards improving it. Get a couple of mobile speed gun units and make a few announcements in local newspapers that speed guns exists on that road.

6. Punish the guilty and make sure any disciplinary action taken, immediately gets printed in the local newspapers to create awareness.

Last edited by SCORPION : 12th October 2018 at 12:42.
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Old 12th October 2018, 12:38   #12
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Default Re: Crowdsourcing ideas to reduce accidents - I'm helping the District Administration

One of the simplest and easiest solution to avoid accidents on Highways(Not sure of the implementation costs )


There are two major causes for highway accidents

1. People/cattle crossing the roads from one side to another.

Solution: Have barriers on both sides of the roads to stop people/cattles crossing the roads which is the major cause of accidents

2. Sudden lane changes by the vehicles for over taking slow moving vehicles

Solution:(My own thought - May have to be refined further.)
Create minor barriers between two lanes (Similar to Humps - May be called Vertical humps- But, need to be really small. Some R&D is required on this thought to design the humps properly.
Vehicles can go at speed of max 60 KMPH and still be able to change the lanes. Beyond 60 KMPH, probably, some discomfort to the drivers / passengers

This will cause discomfort for any vehicle owner but he will be cautious and conscious while changing the lanes and will certainly slow down the vehicle to change the lane.

Once drivers on the highway are accustomed to these kinds of roads ,accidents may reduce.

Last edited by gkveda : 12th October 2018 at 12:47.
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Old 12th October 2018, 12:48   #13
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Default Re: Crowdsourcing ideas to reduce accidents - I'm helping the District Administration

I'm sorry to say that there is no shortcut solution to this. Anyone looking for a shortcut is looking for short term media coverage followed by a grand failure.

The simple solution is education. The villagers MUST know WHO IS AT FAULT if there is an accident on the stretch - It is plain and simple - theirs. Unless there is a marked zebra crossing, it is their fault. If an animal is injured or dies due to being hit by a car - the owner of the animal is at fault. Plain and simple.

Infrastructure requests will come from the villagers themselves, once they are clear about the fact that they will be held responsible for any casualties/fatalities on the highway. They will themselves ask, and negotiate for a large number of overpasses for pedestrians and underpasses for animals and vehicles.

What the administration should do is pull up their socks and do some actual work instead of trying to think of "out of the box" solutions. They've even decided to outsource the thinking bit apparently.

Education of vehicle drivers is a different issue, and inter-vehicle accidents will not end until drivers know what the rules are and who is at fault in case of an accident.


Quote:
Originally Posted by gkveda View Post
2. Sudden lane changes by the vehicles for over taking slow moving vehicles

Solution:(My own thought - May have to be refined further.)
Create minor barriers between two lanes (Similar to Humps - May be called Vertical humps- But, need to be really small. Some R&D is required on this thought to design the humps properly.
Vehicles can go at speed of max 60 KMPH and still be able to change the lanes. Beyond 60 KMPH, probably, some discomfort to the drivers / passengers

This will cause discomfort for any vehicle owner but he will be cautious and conscious while changing the lanes and will certainly slow down the vehicle to change the lane.
This is a terrible idea. I'm sorry, but why should one have to slow down to change lanes? This is bound to cause more accidents than solve. This is also an example of putting responsibility where it should not be. Drivers should be educated on how to drive. We cannot find solutions for the infinite number of idiotic things a huge number of uneducated drivers will do.

Last edited by VeluM : 12th October 2018 at 12:54. Reason: Quote
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Old 12th October 2018, 13:30   #14
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Default Re: Crowdsourcing ideas to reduce accidents - I'm helping the District Administration

Quote:
Originally Posted by VeluM View Post
The simple solution is education. The villagers MUST know WHO IS AT FAULT if there is an accident on the stretch
Musts / Do's /Don'ts and all that have never worked in past (almost a century)
Now, how do you bring the transformation in the education system so that they will be educated and bring down the accidents ?

Quote:
This is a terrible idea. I'm sorry, but why should one have to slow down to change lanes? This is bound to cause more accidents than solve. This is also an example of putting responsibility where it should not be. Drivers should be educated on how to drive. We cannot find solutions for the infinite number of idiotic things a huge number of uneducated drivers will do.
I am not defensive here. But, in the past, when Baricades on either side of the road and Humps were introduced to avoid accidents, similar statements came up as the initial response.
I remember hearing the comments like "Practically, does it make sense to install barricades for kilometers across both the sides of the road ? Is it sensible investment?"

But, today, these are the only solutions proved to be helping.

Any new thing that is planned will definitely receive criticism but later those will be accepted

PS: The Idea is NOT to slow down the vehicle to change lanes. It is to bring the driver's consciousness back.

Last edited by gkveda : 12th October 2018 at 13:44.
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Old 12th October 2018, 13:34   #15
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Default Re: Crowdsourcing ideas to reduce accidents - I'm helping the District Administration

Without much ado, given your constraints:

1. Education, road user awareness and over communication seems the only best short term solution till we have enough funds and means to strictly enforce rules and set up speed monitoring systems etc. Our forum member SCORPION mentioned educating Children, this will be very effective , i will add womenfolk to the list also, both can really influence families and societies.

2. Please approach / welcome corporates who may be willing to fund this out of their CSR budget and work with Govt agencies. We can get practical ideas from them too

3. Cattle cross the road mainly to feed and then to get back to their owners homes , can we help the cattle owners in the area you mention to establish designated feeding areas on their side of the highway itself and also enclose the grazing area so the cattle do not really move out ( cannot move out) of that zone. Dept of Animal Husbandry can help?

4. If there are toll plazas on that stretch, these nodes can be used for driver education and warning as the vehicles pass through.
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