Are we doing enough to protect our children against road casualties ?

Are we doing enough to protect our children against road casualties ?

Are we doing enough to protect our children against road casualties ?

14th November is celebrated as Children’s Day but before we start celebrating the Day, let’s get down to some hard facts:

  • 11,168 children were killed due to road crashes in 2019 i.e. 31 child deaths every day
  • Children account to 8% of the total road crash fatalities
  • Child deaths increased by 1,191 (11.94 per cent) in 2019

These are some of the disturbing numbers of child deaths of road crashes that MoRTH (Ministry for Road Transport and Highways) has revealed in its 2019 report. It is extremely sad and disheartening to see that our young ones being reduced to some mere numbers in government reports simply because of lack of empathy and seriousness towards child safety.

What is more disturbing is the manner in which these innocent lives have been lost. Most of these injuries and fatalities involve two wheelers and also includes rampantly riding without a helmet or non-adherence to  safety rules. These road crashes also include overcrowded school buses and pool cars which do not follow any safety measures. Children are the most vulnerable section of our society and road crashes involve emotional turmoil. It also results in considerable economic losses to the families as well as the nation as a whole.

The question that both the government and public need to ask on this Children’s Day is whether we are doing enough to keep our loved ones safe? Awareness on child safety is very low in the society and even if one does know, callousness and careless behavior looms large.

 Motor Vehicle Amendment Act (MVAA) 2019 and Child safety

However, things started looking up after the MVAA 2019 was passed. It mandated a new provision that every child should be wearing a seatbelt or a Child Restraint System (CRS). The importance of a seatbelt for all is often undermined. Just to explain the science behind road crashes for not wearing seatbelts, experts explain that the occupants are also travelling at the same speed as that of the car and when the car come to sudden halt the impact causes serious injuries to the head and neck.  In such cases however, the CRS through the harness is more effective than a seat belt for very young children as they are specifically designed for them.

The new MVAA also provides provision safety for the pedestrians and non-motorized road users who are also children. Young children have been victims of rash and reckless driving even if they are not travelling in their cars or other transport. Stringent measures have also been introduced for drunken driving and over speeding in MVAA 19 and also for riding a 2 wheeler without a helmet.

Provision of MVA

Issue of road safety and safety is taken seriously only when someone loses a loved one or is seriously injured in a car crash.  To combat road accidents and make roads and cars a safer place for children, the Centre has also proposed new safety measures for pillion riders up to 4 years of age like mandatory use of harness and helmet for children. This new rule will cover children up to the age of four years and with a maximum speed limit of 40km per hour. Violation of the rule will attract a penalty of Rs 1000 and a three-month suspension of the driver’s license. We all must support these provisions.  

Speaking about MVAA (Motor Vehicle Amendment Act) and its implementation, Mr Ashim Sanyal, COO, Consumer VOICE, elaborates that “though the government on its part is taking right strides, the onus of safer roads lies on the society as a whole. Though MVAA ensures stricter penalties and punishment which should act as a deterrent for errant drivers and even car manufacturers, awareness among all road users to be disciplined is a must. Children specially should be repeatedly cautioned and the road safety curriculum should be seriously taken up in schools. This will help us save more young lives on Indian roads”.


Reducing road fatalities by 50% is possible by 2025 as against the target of 2030

Reducing road fatalities by 50% is possible by 2025 as against the target of 2030

Shri Nitin Gadkari, Hon’ble Minister for Road Transport, Highways, and MSME said road fatalities can be reduced by 50 per cent by 2025 as against the target of 2030 while addressing a webinar organised by Consumer VOICE along with the other partners of the Road Safety Network.  In a bid to reduce road accidents the measures that have been outlined by Gadkari included the 4Es- Engineering, Education, Empowerment, and Emergency Care. He asked all educational and research institutions, civil society organisations like Consumer VOICE and state governments to actively participate in generating awareness on road safety and implementing the Motor Vehicle Amendment Act (MVAA).

“My suggestion to all state governments and stakeholders is to create awareness with the help of strong, effective campaigns. I’m ready to do whatever is needed to save lives,” the minister said.

National Road Safety Webinar

He also stressed on the identification of black spots to help reduce road accidents. The government has already appointed a committee in districts under the supervision of a chairman to identify black spots. Most of these black spots are on the National Highways which account for more than 53, 000 accidents every year. This he admits is a national challenge for all stakeholders. The central government, therefore, plans to appoint a private consultant under public-private partnership (PPP) model for an intelligent traffic system, Gadkari added.

“This is the time we should go for PPP (public-private partnership) model in transportation. We will appoint a private consultant, a good reputed company to study how we can make the PPP model in transport system particularly in Intelligent Transport System (ITS) at the state level, municipal corporation level and the National Highways level,” the minister added while addressing the gathering in the webinar.

The webinar also witnessed international participation from Dr. Kelly Henning, Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS), New York and Dr. Judy Fleiter, Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP), Geneva. While Dr. Kelly Henning congratulated the Indian government on the successful completion of one year of MVAA, Dr. Judy Fleiter appreciated the work down at the ground level by Road Safety Network.

Former MP (Lok Sabha) Shri Jay Panda also appreciated the efforts of the NGOs and the government as he acknowledges the fact that the Act came in after 3 decades of hard campaigning. Road accidents result in a loss of 3% of the GDP and in this pandemic when India is showing a downward hill in the GDP, this is the last thing the country can afford. ‘By cutting down on road accidents, we will add to the GDP as it means there will be less stress on the already overburdened healthcare system due to the pandemic, he added. He also urged the NGOs to be more proactive as steps taken outside the parliament is equally important to the steps taken inside the parliament. Shri Yunus Khan, Chairman, GOM on Road Safety & Transport, and former Transport Minister, Rajasthan said that the accident rate of two-wheelers is quite high in India and therefore there the importance of road safety needs to be highlighted in educational institutes.

National Road Safety Webinar by Road Safety Network

National Road Safety Webinar by Road Safety Network

National Road Safety Webinar by Road Safety Network

Motor Vehicles Amendment Act 2019 completed one year on September 1, 2020. After almost 30 years a major change came in the form of MVAA 2019 in road safety scenario of India. This Act became a reality due to the dedicated efforts of various stakeholders.  

To discuss further actions and to celebrate the anniversary of MVAA 2019, a National Road Safety Webinar is being organized by the Road Safety Network on September 8th, 2020 from 11.30am to 1.30pm where we will have Shri Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways and MSME, Govt. of India as the Chief Guest along with Hon’ble State Transport Ministers and Hon’ble Members of the Parliament. The full agenda is given below:
Enquire Now

    Enquire Now