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Highways to the Danger Zone

The growth of India’s highway system over the past 25 years has been tremendous, but the increase in road deaths has been equally large. Yet, through all these changes, one thing has remained the same: the policing of India’s highways. It is time for traffic enforcement on India’s highways to evolve into an efficient, modern system of highway patrolling that can keep pace with burgeoning traffic and expanding road networks to provide a safe environment.

India has a road network of 4.3 million kilometres. National highways constitute about 1.7 per cent of that. However, this 1.7 per cent carries approximately 40 per cent of India’s vehicular traffic and is growing rapidly. Last year, about 8,000 km of new national highways were awarded; this year this figure is likely to be in excess of 9,500 km. With this expansion in the highway network and vehicle traffic has come an equally large increase in accidents. As per the latest report of ministry of road transport and highways, more than 1.25 lakh persons lost their lives in road accidents in India in 2009. Road accident deaths have consistently been on the rise since 2001.

The system of highway policing in India remains much the same as it was 40 years ago. Policing each section of a national highway remains the sole responsibility of the state police, particularly the district in which it lies, and police stations along highways have few additional resources to handle their substantial additional duties. This lack of resources can have a great cost when it comes to human life and property. Since these police stations must handle criminal investigations and law-and-order maintenance as well as highway patrols, their resources are spread very thin. Police vehicles and staff busy investigating crimes or controlling public order cannot respond quickly to accidents on the highway. Further, police personnel who spend all day working on other duties may not have the time or energy to carry out the necessary night-time traffic law enforcement.

Recent research by the Rajasthan police, in collaboration with J-PAL at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, proves the benefits of dedicated police teams for traffic law enforcement on highways. Two types of police teams were assigned to enforce an anti-drunk driving crackdown on checkpoints in 182 randomly selected police stations across 11 districts of Rajasthan. Half the teams were drawn from the police stations, as is the current norm. The other half were chosen from the police lines to form dedicated special teams. These special teams were monitored by GPS trackers in their police vehicles and intended to provide a test of how a dedicated highway patrol would compare to the current traffic law enforcement system.

The results show that the special traffic enforcement teams performed better on every parameter compared to the team from the local police station. They were 28.4 per cent more likely to show up to perform a sobriety checkpoint, and 24.7 per cent more likely to arrive on time if they did show up. Further, it seems these differences were not simply due to the GPS monitoring. Once the teams reached the checkpoint itself (where the GPS monitoring did not matter), the special teams still performed better; they stopped an average of 8.6 per cent more vehicles per checkpoint than teams from local police stations. Given that dedicated teams both stayed longer and stopped more vehicles, it is not surprising that they caught 1.8 times more drunk drivers per checkpoint than the police station teams, roughly double the amount.

One might be concerned that this better performance would be negated if the staff of the dedicated teams drawn from district police lines are less accountable to the local community and engage in more corrupt practices at the checkpoints. To study this, researchers recorded the number of drivers appearing in court to pay the penalty for drunk driving by both teams. They found no difference between the two police team strategies: the dedicated teams caught more drunk drivers and also sent more of them to court.

What, then, explains why special traffic enforcement teams performed so much better? Two factors may have been decisive. First, the special teams faced stronger incentives; because they were monitored more closely, their performance could lead more directly to positive recognition from senior officers. Second, the special teams may have been more focused on their work, and less prone to the distractions of other police duties.

A permanent highway patrol police could incorporate both advantages and also technology and expertise unavailable in the above mentioned experiment. Indeed, such a system has already been adopted by many countries, including France, Germany and Japan, and even for traffic police in major Indian cities. A system like the Central Motorway Police Groups in Britain, combining the police forces of many districts and states along the same national highway for dedicated policing services, might be adapted to Indian conditions. Enforcement is a key ingredient for a safe road environment, and specialised highway patrol police are crucial to providing effective enforcement and keeping India’s national highway system safe and protected.

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After Rash of Accidents, Authorities Target Driving Schools

Major traffic accidents are no rarity on Moscow’s roads, but a string of particularly horrific crashes in recent months have forced authorities to search for remedies.

Last week, three people were killed when a woman with a long history of traffic violations rammed her Honda SUV into a bus stop in northern Moscow. In a similar crash in late September, a drunk man driving a Toyota killed a family of five orphaned teenagers, their guardian and her husband at a bus stop on Minskaya Ulitsa in the city’s southwest.

There is already zero tolerance on drunk driving, a policy that is actively enforced — over the weekend, over 400 people were cited for drinking behind the wheel in a raid by Moscow traffic police. And Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev recently proposed hiking fines for traffic violations to $16,000. (See story, Page 1.)

While those measures seek to address the current woes, the authorities are also looking to reform institutions that could have a formative effect on future motorists: driving schools.

Federal prosecutors have conducted a series of checks of driving schools, and proposed legislation would close a loophole that allows prospective drivers to skip an educational course before getting their licenses.

But critics say fixing problems at driving schools will not bring results until corruption in the traffic police is eliminated and other legal norms are changed.

The checks conducted by the Prosecutor General’s Office revealed legal violations at schools including the absence of defined programs of study and class schedules, a lack of necessary course materials, and schools operating without proper licenses.

“We are seeing a boom in such schools, with new legislation on licensing making it possible to open a driving school in one region and subsidiaries in others that are completely beyond the control [of the authorities],” said Tatyana Shutyleva, head of the Interregional Driving Schools Association, which creates driver training programs and provides equipment for schools. The association works with over 7,000 institutions nationwide.

There are around 8,000 driving schools in Russia that teach up to 2.5 million students at any given time, said Dmitry Zheltenkov, the deputy head of the federal traffic police department in charge of drivers’ exams, at a roundtable last week.

The traffic police have proposed a number of measures that are supposed to make training at driving schools more sophisticated and to toughen rules for both instructors and students.

The Prosecutor General’s Office said in a Nov. 13 statement that the number of accidents caused by novice drivers, defined as those with three or fewer years experience on the road, went up by more than 10 percent last year. The statement blamed problems at driving schools for the increase.

As a result of the checks, federal prosecutors ordered their regional counterparts to increase oversight of driving schools and singled out the governmental bodies responsible for licensing the schools, which are branches of the Education and Science Ministry.

The number of road accidents in Russia has remained steady in recent years, while the number of fatalities has gone up, according to police statistics.

In 2011, the overall number of accidents rose barely at all compared to 2010, remaining at just under 200,000, while the number of fatalities went up by about 1,400 — 27,953 deaths in 2011 compared to 26,567 in 2010. There were roughly the same number of injured, about 250,000.

According to police statistics for the first 10 months of 2012, the number of accidents is on pace to go up by about 5,000 compared to 2011, while the number of fatalities is on pace to decrease by about 150.
Gap in Legislation

Under current law, ordinary drivers are not always required to pass a driver’s education course to obtain a license.

Although the traffic police website says that a person seeking a driver’s license must have a certificate from a driving school, Shutyleva said the document is not in fact obligatory for some classes of driver.

A government ordinance on driving exams states that a person must be trained before passing the two required exams by the traffic police, but makes an exception for categories A and B drivers — those who drive motorcycles and light vehicles — who are allowed to prepare for the exams on their own instead of in a school.

“This is a deep legal collision and a loophole for drivers,” Shutyleva said.

Of the millions of people who receive driver’s licenses in Moscow, the vast majority of them apply for category B, and around 20 percent of them are not trained at driving schools at all, Shutyleva estimated.

Proposed amendments to a law on traffic safety currently being considered in the State Duma would prohibit studying for the exams outside of a driving school as well as distance and accelerated learning programs.

But experts say the amendments are unlikely to be passed soon, since they depend in part on pending education reforms.
Improving Training

Shutyleva said a typical driver’s education course takes 2 1/2 to 3 months, with just over 100 hours of theory and about 50 hours of driving practice. The average price for such a course in Moscow is around 30,000 rubles ($970), she said.

The theoretical training usually consists of lectures on driving regulations and the parts of a car and discussions of possible road situations with an instructor. Some schools also provide information on traffic laws and teach first aid basics. Students often analyze questions that could appear on the theoretical part of the traffic police exam.

Not on the official programs of study are certain pieces of advice instructors have been known to give their students, such as never to wear your seat belt — because with it on, you cannot jump free of the car in an accident, or so the folk wisdom goes.

Zheltenkov said the traffic police will enact a set of measures aimed at improving driver’s education programs independent of legislative efforts.

He said an initiative to improve exam procedures had been drawn up and would be approved in the coming months.

“We’ll divide the study process into several parts and introduce a report card for students,” Zheltenkov said. “At the end of each part, the driving student will be required to pass an exam, and if the exam is failed, the student will not allowed to proceed to the next stage,” he said.

Driving school students will be allowed to get behind the wheel for practice driving only after a theoretical exam is passed at the school, he said.
Corruption Eliminated?

A notorious problem within the traffic police is the ability of anyone with enough money to buy a driver’s license without passing any exams at all.

Alexander Byrka, head of the Moscow region school Avtopilot, which trains more than 2,000 drivers of various categories every year, said corruption is on the rise.

“If several years ago 70 percent of those who passed exams at the traffic police did so without paying a bribe, now only 10 percent of candidates pass the exam,” he estimated.

For obvious reasons, these figures were impossible to verify.

You can also obtain a license without any interaction with the traffic police at all, according to many websites that advertise the service.

A woman who picked up the phone at a company called VIP Prava, or VIP License, said a driver’s license could be bought for 20,000 rubles and would be ready within a week. The woman said all that was needed was a copy of one’s passport and a few photos, which a courier would pick up.

But Shutyleva said corruption could disappear with the new legislation — and law enforcement officials claimed that it barely exists at all even now.

The loophole allowing students to prepare for the driver’s license exams on their own is a big cause of corruption, Shutyleva said.

Zheltenkov insisted that there was no evidence at the moment to support claims of corruption in the system.

“There is a division within the traffic police that deals with complaints, but it hasn’t received any complaints about corruption,” he said.

“While this issue continually appears in the press, we can’t understand whether it’s some kind of PR campaign or whether there really are serious contradictions in the work of different divisions of the traffic police,” he said.

“There must be witnesses and precise facts — then certain measures may be taken.”

He added that 99 percent of traffic police examiners had been replaced in recent years, which he said has made it virtually impossible to buy a license.

Prosecutors have no plans to undertake urgent measures to fight bribery either.

“I wouldn’t say that paying attention to the work of the State Automobile Inspectorate is a priority goal of fighting corruption in government bodies,” said Oleg Alexandrov, senior prosecutor in the traffic safety division of the Prosecutor General’s Office, at the roundtable.

Mikhail Blinkin, a transportation expert who writes a column for Russian Forbes, said there was a general deficiency in the legal code when it comes to road accidents.

He pointed to the accident on Minskaya Ulitsa in September that killed seven people, mocking the fact that the driver who caused the crash was charged with manslaughter, which is defined under Russian law as causing someone’s death due to “carelessness.” The charge faced by that driver carries a sentence of up to nine years in prison; he faces multiple counts.

As a result, Blinkin said, changes to legislation related to driving schools will have little effect.

“Driving schools can’t be the reason for the fact that 10 to 15 times more people die in Russia per 10,000 cars than in Western countries,” he said.

Read more:
The Moscow Times

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15 killed, 49 hurt as bus rolls down 400-ft Gorge

Bus driver was under the influence of liquor, says police
Fifteen members of a marriage party were killed and 49 others injured when a bus carrying them rolled down into a 400-foot-deep gorge near Dudu of Ramnagar tehsil in Udhampur district.

Till the filing of report, rescue operations were going on and the death toll could be higher.

The incident happened when the driver of the bus failed to negotiate a sharp curve. The accident occurred around 4.30 pm. The bride and the groom along with their parents, however, escaped unhurt as they were travelling in another vehicle.
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Amreli BJP leader dies in Road Accident

RAJKOT: President of BJP’s Chalala unit in Amreli district, Bhikhubhai Malviya died in a road accident near Jasapar village on Chalala-Dhari road on Monday. Malviya was an aspirant for a BJP ticket for Dhari-Chalala-Bagasra assembly constituency for the forthcoming elections.

Sources said that 38-year-old Malviya was going from Chalala to Dhari along with his friends when their car overturned. Malviya sustained head injuries and died on the spot. Some of the others also received minor injuries.
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J&K govt to launch Awareness campaign on Road Safety Rules

The Jammu and Kashmir Government is going to launch a sustained campaign to create mass awareness about road safety rules to bring down the graph of accidents in the state.

“The Transport department has been asked to launch a sustained campaign to create mass awareness about road safety rules to bring down the graph of accidents in Jammu and Kashmir,” Minister for Transport, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution (CA&PD) Qamar Ali Akhoon said while chairing a meeting convened to review the functioning of the Transport Department and its allied wings.
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Children given Crash Course in Road Safety

It’s a frightening statistic five peple die on the roads every single day.

That’s why pupils in Liverpool have been given a graphic demonstration of what it’s like to be involved in car crash.

One of their classmates at Litherland High was cut out of the wreckage.
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Drink-drivers may face lifetime ban under new government proposals

The proposal is part of a range of measures, which include abolishing the right to have a blood or urine test to confirm a roadside breath test.

Sources working on the plans said lifetime bans were being considered.

It was one of the demands made in a review of drink and drug-driving by Sir Peter North in 2010.

Carole Whittingham, of the Campaign Against Drink Driving, welcomed the idea, saying: ‘We would like to see a life time ban if a person is caught drink-driving twice.

‘They are a danger to the public and should not be allowed behind the wheel. The onus should be on saving innocent lives rather than the rights of a driver who has already been caught breaking the law twice.’

The number of people killed in drink-drive accidents rose last year for the first time in years – prompting fears it was losing its stigma, especially amongst the young.

The main thrust of the government’s crackdown is to close the loophole on blood and urine tests.

It was introduced as a safeguard because roadside breath tests were not thought entirely reliable. However, critics see it as a loophole which allows drivers to sober up just enough to get below the limit.

Road safety minister Stephen Hammond said: ‘We have made great progress in tackling drink-drivers.

‘However, last year, 280 people died in these types of accident, ruining the lives of families up and down the country, so more needs to be done to eradicate this menace.’

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Gurgaon Timely help can reduce accident deaths: Docs

Acting promptly during the golden hour — the crucial hour from the time of accident to the time when the victim reaches the hospital — can go a long way in saving a person’s life, say doctors.

Any delay of action during the golden hour can lead to complications and sometimes even
death. “Trauma cases due to accidents should be dealt promptly. Such patients should be brought to the hospital within one hour of the occurrence of the incident. It is a crucial period for the victim, but prompt medical treatment can prevent death,” said Dr Subhash Jangid, consultant (joint reconstruction), Fortis hospital.
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Children’s Car Seats Still a Rarity

Experts call for laws mandating use of devices to save lives

Millions of Chinese parents are putting their children’s lives in danger by not using child car seats, safety experts and industry insiders warn.

China had 114 million automobiles on the road by the end of June, and 76 percent of them were private cars, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

One expert’s “optimistic” estimate put the number of child car seats in daily use at just 800,000.

“It’s just impossible only 1 percent of families with a car have children,” said Liang Mei, executive vice-president of the China Toy and Juvenile Products Association.

She said it is more likely the public ignores the safety seats even though they are effective in protecting youngsters in car accidents.

The association advises Chinese families to use car seats – of appropriate sizes – for children up to age 12.

“It’s common to see a newborn baby in a safety seat the first time it is taken in a car in the US and some European countries,” Liang said. “But only a few parents have such safety awareness in China.”

Wang Chunyan, who has a 5-year-old daughter, said she spent 1,500 yuan ($240) on a US-brand car seat three years ago, but has rarely used it.

“I understand the importance, but it was hard to get into the habit of using it, both for her and me,” said the 41-year-old Beijing resident. “The seat took up too much room in my little car. Plus, my daughter felt uncomfortable and kept crying. So I finally gave up.”

Wang said not many of her friends have persisted with child car seats.

“It’s true that most of us are taking a chance by not using the seats, but we always drive carefully, and cars go slowly anyway because of the frequent traffic jams,” she added. “I always put my daughter in the back seat and get someone to sit with her.”

Xinhua News Agency reported that about 18,500 children under age 14 die in traffic accidents in China every year.

A child who weighs 10 kg and is traveling at 50 km per hour in a car has a force impact of 300 kg in a crash, according the China Automotive Technology and Research Center.

“At this speed, it’s impossible to protect a child,” Liang said. “In some tragedies, children are even thrown through the windshield.”

Some parents remain unconvinced.

A 38-year-old Beijing mother who asked to be identified as Han said she would never put her 7-year-old boy in an child car seat, adding that it would be “weird” and that she had “never seen anyone else do so when she drove him to and from school”.

Her comments come just months after traffic surveillance footage released online showed a father leaping from his moving minivan to save his 2-year-old daughter, who had fallen out of the passenger door at a busy intersection in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province.

The man, identified only as He, told police the toddler had crawled from the back into the front seat and opened the door. The girl escaped with just minor cuts and bruises.

Likely to catch on

Although usage is currently extremely low, industry insiders say child car seats will gradually become more popular, especially in large cities, as more parents accept the seats as necessities.

From June to mid-November, car seat sales were double those of the first five months of the year, according to Leyou, a large Chinese store specializing in maternal and baby products. It did not provide statistics.

Cao Guangming, president of Best Baby Car Seat MFG and Lucky Baby Safety System MFG, in Jiangsu province, said domestic sales of the two companies are expected to reach 100,000 this year, compared with 30,000 in 2011.

“Our products are mostly exported now,” he said. “Compared with years of high demand in overseas markets, domestic consumption is limited.

“China urgently needs to make child car seats mandatory to reduce the risks to children, such as the measures introduced in the US, Australia and some European countries.”

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Rajkot Businessman Killed in Accident

RAJKOT: A businessman residing in Karanpara area of the city was killed in a road accident near Sayla on Rajkot – Ahmedabad highway on Monday morning. Parag Turakhiya (53) was returning with his wife and younger brother from Ahmedabad after having dropped his sister Shobana there when his car collided with a truck.
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Family of Accident Victim Donates his Organs

COIMBATORE: In a noble gesture, the family members of a 23-year-old youth who succumbed to injuries sustained in a road mishap, donated his vital organs, giving a new lease of life to at least five others after a team of doctors successfully harvested his organs on Sunday evening. The victim, M Dharmarajan of Ayyappa Nagar in Mettupalayam was declared brain dead on Saturday afternoon at KG Hospital here in the city. The family members consented to donate his vital organs and the procedure was completed by Sunday evening.

“I have known Dharmarajan since childhood and we were thick friends. His parents and wife have done a very noble act during a difficult time,” said P Sivasankar, a close friend of Dharmarajan and his neighbhour in Ayyapa Nagar in Mettupalayam.
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Road Mishaps Biggest Youth killer: WHO report

NEW DELHI: It’s not HIV/AIDS or any other disease which is the leading killer of productive youth across the globe but road accidents. A World Health Organization (WHO) report shows that 3,35,805 people in the 15-29 years age group succumb to road accident injuries annually and it’s no different in India. At least 30% of road fatalities here are in this age group of 15-25.
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Nine killed in Jaipur Road Mishap

Jaipur: Nine people, including four children, were killed when their vehicle rammed into a stationary truck in Rajasthan’s Pali district, police said on Tuesday.

The families of Mahendra Singh and Ashok were on their way to Jodhpur from Jaipur when the accident occurred in Jaitran on Monday night, police said.
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Bikers Unsafe: 3 fatal crashes in a day

NEW DELHI: Three fatal accidents on Thursday again highlighted the vulnerability of motorcycle riders in Delhi’s traffic. While in the first case a teenager died after crashing his bike into the divider near Kirari Phatak in Sultanpuri, Sadatpuri Extension resident Udayveer Singh was killed near Nigambodh Ghat when another vehicle hit his bike. In the third accident, Shakurpur resident Divesh Vats (30) died after being hit by an unknown vehicle over the Sagarpur flyover on Pankha Road. The three accidents occurred in the daytime, between 1.10pm and 5.30pm.

Although biker fatalities are down this year, in line with the overall downtrend in accidents, police say the proportion of bikers killed in accidents remains high. “Records have shown that those on a two-wheeler are the most vulnerable after pedestrians,” said joint commissioner of police (traffic) Satyendra Garg, adding that biker fatalities account for nearly 30% of road accident deaths in the city.
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Egypt’s Transport Minister Resigns after 50 Killed in Road Crash

MOSCOW, November 17 (RIA Novosti) – Egypt’s Transport Minister Mohammad Rashad al-Metini resigned following a road crash on Saturday that killed 50 people, mainly school children.

Eighteen others were seriously injured when a train collided with a school bus in the central Egyptian province of Assiut, the Mena news agency reported.

There were about 60 children between four and six years old on the bus when it stuck on a railway crossing near a village in the Manfaloot district.
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Egyptian train hits school bus, 51 killed

ASSIUT, Egypt (AP) — A speeding train that crashed into a bus carrying Egyptian children to their kindergarten on Saturday killed 51 and prompted a wave of anger against a government under mounting pressure to rectify the former regime’s legacy of neglect.

The crash, which killed children between four and six years old and three adults, led to local protests and accusations from outraged Egyptians that President Mohammed Morsi is failing to deliver on the demands of last year’s uprising for basic rights, dignity and social justice.
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U.N. World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims

18 November 2012 at Chandigarh, India
A 12 feet GIANT CANDLE was lighted at Plaza, Sector 17, Chandigarh as a reminder to the Decision Makers, Authorities and Engineers (Building Roads and Vehicles) to make Safer Roads and to the Public so they follow traffic rules.

The standard sized candles were lighted, as it has now become a ritual to remember people lost in road accidents using candles.

As per this year’s theme, “Now is the time to learn from the past” and move on “From Global Remembrance to Global Action on Road Safety”. The Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 – with its goal to save 5 million lives – serves as a mechanism for countries to gain the knowledge and experience, which have benefitted others.

More than 50 volunteers of ArriveSAFE participated in the event. The officials of Chandigarh Traffic Police set up a stall and distributed educational content on Road Safety to the people.

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Wrong Driver beaten to Death in Accident Case

TRICHY: In a case of mistaken identity, an innocent man who had been summoned by police to drive a vehicle that had met with an accident, was beaten to death as he was misconstrued to be the person who caused the accident killing one person.

A certain Rajesh was riding a two-wheeler near Manakkal in Lalgudi taluk with his father Murthy as pillion when a sand-laden truck on its way to Trichy from Anbil hit the bike head-on. Strangely, Rajesh, the rider, escaped with simple injuries, while his father Murthy got entangled in the rear wheel of the truck and was crushed to death. Martin, the driver of the truck, fled the scene and he could not be traced until late in the night.
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Activists spread road safety message on Diwali

PUNE: Social organisations and noted cartoonist and traffic safety activist Mangesh Tendulkar distributed road safety awareness greeting cards to people on the occasion of Diwali on Tuesday.

The Diwali cards had special cartoons created by Tendulkar. He has been spreading the message of road safety for the last 12 years, with his cartoons depicting the risks of not following traffic rules.
On Tuesday, Tendulkar and members of Creative Foundation, Nature Walk, India Against Corruption, and other social organisations, distributed the cards at Nal Stop on Karve Road. Tendulkar said the activists would distribute the cards for the next four days.
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Toyota builds new road safety facility to test cars that communicate with each other, roads

SUSONO, Japan — Toyota Motor Corp. is testing car safety systems that allow vehicles to communicate with each other and with the roads they are on in a just completed facility in Japan the size of three baseball stadiums.
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