Kenya: PSV’s Brace for Stringent Rules to Boost Road Safety

KENYA’S public transport service is set for a major overhaul following the impending implementation of new regulations by the Transport and Safety Authority Board. The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure has prepared a raft of regulations, signed by Transport Secretary Michael Kamau on December 16.

The regulations will be launched on February 1 and are perceived to be stringent than the famous Michuki laws. They contain stiffer penalties aimed at tackling high cases of road accidents. The regulations will replace laws introduced by the late John Michuki in 2004 when he served as Transport Minister.

The night ban travel by public service vehicles is part of the regulations. The directives contained in legal notice 219 sets strict rules aimed at taming the PSV’s that have been blamed for a spate of fatal accidents on Kenya’s highways especially during the festive season.

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JN Donates Millions to Aid Prevention of Violent, Road Traffic Injuires

The project, which is in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the Violence Prevention Alliance and Mona GeoInformatics, will, among other things, seek to chart and analyse the burden of violence and motor vehicle-related injuries on hospital services across the island, with emphasis on the UHWI.

Additionally, the mapping will identify geographic areas which have a higher concentration of incidents to allow for prevention programmes to target those specific areas.

The trends collated will be based on hospital injury data over a five-year period, between 2005 and 2009; and the survey will also provide a profile of injuries by age, gender, nature and location of injury incidence.

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One Death in Every 10 Road “Accident” in Sultanate

Muscat: Twelve per cent of the road accidents in the Sultanate turn out to be fatal, an average of one death in every 10 road accidents, according to the recent statistics released by the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI).

The annual statistics covered the period till the end of November 2013. During this period, 6,600 road accidents were recorded resulting in 823 fatalities and 9,081 injuries, compared to 7,529 accidents which resulted in 1,059 fatalities and 10,737 injuries during the period from January to November 2012.

When compared to the 2012 figures, road accidents in Oman recorded an annual decrease of 12.3 per cent, while the death toll from accidents also recorded a decrease of 22.3 per cent.

Statistics also reveal that most of the dead were men, with 702 deaths (85.3 per cent), compared to 121 women (14.7 per cent).

The NCSI statistics also revealed that new vehicle registrations until the end of November 2013 witnessed a decline of 6.5 per cent. A total of 119,526 new vehicles were registered compared to 127,784 vehicles registered during the same period in 2012.

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Traffic Police Bat for Road Safety

GURGAON: As part of its annual weeklong campaign on road safety, the city’s traffic police have come out with a unique series of events focusing on different aspects of safety.

The campaign will kick off on January 11 with the overall theme of ‘When on the road, always say “Pehle Aap”‘, and promoting safe driving in Gurgaon. “Each day will be devoted to one feature of safe driving, for instance, January 11 will be promoted as ‘No Honking Day’ and another feature will be for the subsequent days during the campaign,” said Bharti Arora, JCP, traffic police.

According to the plan, January 12 will be promoted as a ‘Don’t Drink and Drive Day’, while the 13th and 14th January 14 will be ‘Lane Driving Day’ and ‘No Over Speeding Day’. January 15 will be ‘Helmet Day’ and the next being ‘Seat Belt Day’ while ‘Respect the Red Light Day’ will round off the campaign.

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On-the-Spot Counselling for Road Users

MYSORE: The city traffic cops are going all out to realize their goal of bringing in road discipline and making city roads safer. After initiating strict measures to implement the traffic rules by penalizing the violators, cops are now focusing on educating the violators. They strongly believe in making roadusers realize their responsibility too.

In a novel initiative, police have started counselling rule violators on the spot instead of booking them for violation. So far, hundreds of roadusers —pedestrians, two-wheeler users, auto drivers, car drivers and heavy vehicle drivers — have been advised to help cops in making the city roads safer by following the rules.

D Shivanna, head constable, on Wednesday, educated scores of roadusers during different sessions near Nazarbad police station circle. He said: “We are asking all roadusers to help accident victims and also telling them not to run away from the spot if they are responsible for an accident. We will have a little time – the golden hour — to save the accident victims and if we miss the opportunity there is every possibility the injured may die. We have also assured them that police will not book cases if they help victims.”

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Dozen Children Among 17 Injured in Road Mishaps

JAMMU/POONCH, Jan 9: At-least dozen students were injured when a school minibus turned turtle at Langate Morh near Sar Khad area of Kathua district while four cops among five people were injured in car-bus collision at Bainch village of Poonch.

Police reports said that at-least dozen students were injured, one of them critically, when a school minibus turned turtle at Langate Morh near Sar Khad area of Kathua district, this morning. The ill-fated minibus bearing registration number JK02E-8780 carrying students of Army School from villages Bhudhi, Nanan and Palad was on way to school at Kalibari. As soon as the vehicle crossed Sar Khad bridge, the driver lost his control after a rashly driven army vehicle came from opposite side. The vehicle turned turtle resulting injuries to students.

The locals rushed to the spot after hearing screams of the injured and they shifted them to District Hospital (DH) Kathua for treatment. The doctors attending upon them provided necessary treatment and referred the seriously injured student Pankaj Singh, son of Chajju Ram to GMC hospital.

Other injured identified as Kanav Punia, Pankaj Sharma, Ashvarya Rawat, Nikhil Singh, Tarun Sharma, Manik Singh, Manish Sharma, Ankur Sharma, Suraj Singh, Muskan, Ridima and Laksh Salathia were undergoing treatment at the DH Kathua.

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One Road “Accident” Death Every Four Minutes: Bihar Disaster Management Body Chief

PATNA: Bihar State Disaster Management Authority (BSDMA) vice-chairman Anil Kumar Sinha on Thursday cautioned people of the state against rash driving, as one road accident occurs every minute and one road accident death every fourth minute in the country.

Calling the deaths caused by way of road accidents an “invisible epidemic” even in Bihar, Sinha said the cumulative number of deaths caused by road accidents annually is higher than the number of people who get killed during disasters of different kinds, and, therefore, it was incumbent on vehicle users to avoid rash driving and adhere to road safety norms.

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Road Safety Drive Fails to Stem Carnage

DESPITE more than 840 road blocks and 3,800 arrests for traffic infringements during the end-of-year holiday season, the death toll on South Africa’s roads was little changed from a year ago, with 1,357 people losing their lives between December 1 and January 7.

Government-led road safety and safety awareness campaigns over the past five years have yielded little.

But the Department of Transport said on Thursday while it was true progress had been modest, road deaths were in decline.

Transport Minister Dipuo Peters shared the preliminary festive season road death statistics on Thursday, which revealed that the causes behind South Africa’s appalling road safety record were well-known and preventable. The major causes were speeding, drunk-driving, reckless overtaking, unroadworthy vehicles, unlicensed drivers and driver fatigue.

The department would be working with the Department of Basic Education to ensure that road safety becomes part of school curricula, Ms Peters said. More work would be done with faith-based organisations to create greater awareness of the need to observe traffic regulations.

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Volvo Sustainable Mobility Award 2013

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Bangalore Police To Launch Android App To Crowdsource Auto Rickshaw Reviews

This is fantastic! Soon you will be able to review auto drivers and your auto experience thanks to Bangalore City traffic police’s Android app, which they will be launching soon as a part of the Happy auto campaign, according to a report.

The new campaign intends to act as a service for the appreciations and complaint forum for auto rickshaws plying in the city, the report said.

“Though auto drivers are often accused of cheating public with tampered meters or over pricing, there is also a section of auto drivers who display rare honesty,” a police source told Bangalore Mirror.

The city traffic police department has also roped in Kannada movie star Sudeep as the brand ambassador for the campaign and is tying up with a private company for designing the Android app.

The Additional Commissioner of Police (traffic and security) B Dayananda has said that the campaign will be beneficial to both the commuter as well as the auto drivers.

The department also plans to felicitate the best auto driver of the month based on the feedback.

In another move to improve the auto rickshaw service in the city, Bangalore based social enterprise, India Drivers Network had launched mGaadi, a call auto service, back in November this year.

Recently, InvertedTree Solutions launched an app called Savior, which lets commuters share travel experiences so as to make owners of autos, taxis and radio taxis responsible for providing better services to customers.

A few startups have tried to straighten out the auto mess in different cities but most of them have failed. Mumbai’s Rickshawale, Pune’s AyAuto, Gurgaon’s RadioTukTuk shut shop. Bangalore’s EasyAuto shut shop even if they created quite a buzz at the time of launch couldn’t sustain in the city but continues to operate in Patna, Bihar. Read: Can AutoWale be the Meru of Rickshaws?]

Some of these startups have even been intimidated by the auto unions. However, a police backed app maker may not have to face intimidation. Also, if the police start taking action based on information received through the app, it could really have an impact on the quality of services.

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Advocacy for strict punishment to drivers accused in ’Hit-and-Run’ incidents

Ten people of a family died as their car edged off a bridge at in Amritsar district, Punjab, India. The bridge did not have any crash railings making it highly prone to such crashes. It is criminal not to but crash railings on bridges.

It is very clearly evident that concerned PWD officials responsible for the maintenance of the Road and the Bridge failed to perform their obligatory duty of maintaining the Bridge in proper condition.

We are advocating that the concerned Executive Engineer, Sub-divisional Engineer and Junior Engineer of the PWD of the Area are booked by name under Sections 304-A (Causing death by negligence) and 337 (Causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) of the Indian Penal Code in the FIR.

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In Study, Texting Lifts Crash Risk by Large Margin

The first study of drivers texting inside their vehicles shows that the risk sharply exceeds previous estimates based on laboratory research — and far surpasses the dangers of other driving distractions.

The new study, which entailed outfitting the cabs of long-haul trucks with video cameras over 18 months, found that when the drivers texted, their collision risk was 23 times greater than when not texting.

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, which compiled the research and plans to release its findings on Tuesday, also measured the time drivers took their eyes from the road to send or receive texts.

In the moments before a crash or near crash, drivers typically spent nearly five seconds looking at their devices — enough time at typical highway speeds to cover more than the length of a football field.

Even though trucks take longer to stop and are less maneuverable than cars, the findings generally applied to all drivers, who tend to exhibit the same behaviors as the more than 100 truckers studied, the researchers said. Truckers, they said, do not appear to text more or less than typical car drivers, but they said the study did not compare use patterns that way.

Compared with other sources of driver distraction, “texting is in its own universe of risk,” said Rich Hanowski, who oversaw the study at the institute.

Mr. Hanowski said the texting analysis was financed by $300,000 from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which has the mission of improving safety in trucks and buses. More broadly, the research yielding the results represent a significant logistical undertaking.

The overall cost was $6 million to equip the trucks with video cameras and track them for three million miles as they hauled furniture, frozen foods and other goods across the country.

The final analysis of the data is undergoing peer review before formal publication.

Tom Dingus, director of the Virginia Tech institute, one of the world’s largest vehicle safety research organizations, said the study’s message was clear.

“You should never do this,” he said of texting while driving. “It should be illegal.”

Thirty-six states do not ban texting while driving; 14 do, including Alaska, California, Louisiana and New Jersey. New York legislators have sent a bill to Gov. David A. Paterson. But legislators in some states have rejected such rules, and elected officials say they need more data to determine whether to ban the activity.

One difficulty in measuring crashes caused by texting drivers — and by drivers talking on phones — is that many police agencies do not collect this data or have not compiled long-term studies. Texting also is a relatively new phenomenon.

The issue has drawn attention after several recent highly publicized crashes caused by texting drivers, including an episode in May involving a trolley car driver in Boston who crashed while texting his girlfriend.

Over all, texting has soared. In December, phone users in the United States sent 110 billion messages, a tenfold increase in just three years, according to the cellular phone industry’s trade group, CTIA.

The results of the Virginia Tech study are buttressed by new laboratory research from the University of Utah. In a study over the last 18 months, college students using a sophisticated driving simulator showed an eight times greater crash risk when texting than when not texting.

That study, which is undergoing peer review and has been submitted for publication in The Journal for Human Factors, also found that drivers took their eyes off the road for around five seconds when texting.

David Strayer, a professor who co-wrote the University of Utah report, offered two explanations for the simulator’s showing lower risks than the Virginia study. Trucks are tougher to maneuver and stop, he noted, and the college students in his study might be somewhat better at multitasking.

But the differences in the studies are not the point, Mr. Strayer said. “You’re off the charts in both cases,” he added. “It’s crazy to be doing it.”

At Virginia Tech, researchers said they focused on texting among truckers simply because the trucking study was relatively new and thus better reflected the explosive growth of texting. But another new study from the organization is focusing on texting among so-called light-vehicle drivers, specifically teenagers.

Preliminary results from that study show risk levels for texters roughly comparable to those of the truck drivers. The formal results of the light-vehicle study should be available later this year. By comparison, several field and laboratory studies show that drivers talking on cellphones are four times more likely to cause a crash than other drivers. And a previous Virginia institute study videotaping car drivers found that they were three times more likely to crash or come close to a crash when dialing a phone and 1.3 times more likely when talking on it.

Researchers focused on distracted driving disagree about whether to place greater value on the results of such a so-called naturalistic study or laboratory studies, which allow the scientists to recreate conditions and measure individual drivers against themselves.

But, in the case of texting, laboratory and real-world researchers say the results are significant — from both scientific methodologies, texting represents a much greater risk to drivers than other distractions.

A new poll shows that many drivers know the risks of texting while driving — and do it anyway. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety plans on Tuesday to publish polling data that show that 87 percent of people consider drivers texting or e-mailing to pose a “very serious” safety threat (roughly equal to the 90 percent who consider drunken drivers a threat).

Of the 2,501 drivers surveyed this spring, 95 percent said that texting was unacceptable behavior. Yet 21 percent of drivers said they had recently texted or e-mailed while driving.

About half of drivers 16 to 24 said they had texted while driving, compared with 22 percent of drivers 35 to 44.

“It’s convenient,” said Robert Smith, 22, a recent college graduate in Windham, Me. He says he regularly texts and drives even though he recognizes that it is a serious risk. He would rather text, he said, than take time on a phone call.

“I put the phone on top of the steering wheel and text with both thumbs,” he said, adding that he often has exchanges of 10 messages or more. Sometimes, “I’ll look up and realize there’s a car sitting there and swerve around it.”

Mr. Smith, who was not part of the AAA survey, said he was surprised by the findings in the new research about texting.

“I’m pretty sure that someday it’s going to come back to bite me,” he said of his behavior.

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Govt to set up a road safety and traffic management body

With road accidents on the rise, the government is planning to set up a body dedicated to ensuring better road safety and traffic management.

“We are actively considering creation of National Road Safety and Traffic Management Board,” Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Oscar Fernandes said while addressing a meeting of the National Road Safety Council in New Delhi.

“The board will act as a dedicated agency to oversee road safety activity in the country, and will have powers to issue guidelines on a wide range of issues concerning road safety,” he said.

National efforts would be boosted if the States can actively champion the cause of road safety, he added.

In 2012, the country witnessed 490,383 total road accidents. The total number of road accident fatalities stood at 138,258 in the same year, official data shows.

According to sources, Road Transport and Highways Ministry is likely to circulate a Cabinet note regarding the proposal soon.

The proposed body may not have penalising powers, sources added.

Mr. Fernandes further said all sectors of the government including health, transport, education and police have the authority and responsibility to make decisions, control resources and coordinate efforts.

“It will be a relegated agency to see road safety activities in the country,” Mr. Fernandes said.

The proposed board will periodically review the action being taken and give necessary directions, he added.

Emphasising the need for better road safety mechanisms, Mr. Fernandes also said that the focus on the road safety issues starts right from the preparation of the Detailed Project Report for construction of a Road Project.

“Road Safety Audits are a must during this phase. We are examining the issue of appointing the Road Safety Auditors till the completion of construction. Best practices on the Road Equipments, Technology and Management practices focusing on the Road safety are necessary,” he said.

The Minister added that many accidents take place because of poor road conditions and therefore monitoring and redemption in time of stretches which have poor road quality should be taken up urgently.

In the next meeting of the National Road Safety Council, scheduled on October 27, the government is likely to deliberate on the issue of national permit scheme for the long distance buses, tourist bus among other things.

The Ministry had also taken action for formulation of National Ambulance Code in order to improve the quality and safety of ambulances on Indian roads, the minister further added.

Certain minimum standards and guidelines have been laid down for constructional and functional requirements of ambulances so as to ensure care and comfort to the patients, he said.

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Launch of Ecocabs in the City Beautiful, Chandigarh

‘Chandigarh Ecocabs’ ‘ dial-a-rickshaw facility ‘ was launched by the Adviser to the Administrator, U.T. Chandigarh to facilitate easy access to the green mode of transport. The concept of dial-a-rickshaw service is based on a similar model that is running successfully in Fazilka town of Punjab since five years. Fazilka has nine call centres, which are actually tea shops that run near rickshaw stands. Whenever a resident calls for a rickshaw there, the tea vendor informs the service provider standing first in queue. This not only helps increase the income of rickshaw pullers, but also saves fuel and the environment.

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The Driver in the Bottle

India has one of the world’s highest number of traffic-related deaths and drunk driving is a leading cause for the alarming statistics. Our writer enters a world where people obsess about ways to keep drunks off the wheel: from pranayama to electro-chemical sensors to fines to good old-fashioned jail time.

Bangalore bus driver Pradeep AR knew how to hide his whisky. He would select a smooth young coconut, insert a straw, quickly drink about half of the sweet water, and then pour the booze inside the shell.

He didn’t drink on duty, says the 28-year-old driver. But his hands shook. Eight days a month, he couldn’t manage to get up for work. He was spending about a third of his income on Raja Whisky and Original Choice, and when he couldn’t afford that, a plastic packet of the cheaper stuff.

Still, he liked wearing a uniform, and was touched by the respect that he got from many of his passengers and co-workers. This was a lot better than his previous job, working for a cement factory, getting dust all over his face as he unloaded the lorry. He didn’t want to lose his seat behind the wheel. So he decided to heed his supervisor’s warning: go to rehab, or don’t come back to the depot.

In most places in India, bus companies have shown little interest in protecting passengers, cyclists and pedestrians from the dangerous consequences of a driver’s taste for liquor. In Bangalore, however, the Karnataka State Road Transportation Corporation (KSRTC) and its affiliates have made rehab a priority.

Disturbed by absenteeism, low productivity, and shocking loss of life in road accidents, the bus company runs its own 40-day programme where men like Pradeep can try to steer a new course in sobriety.

In a hospital on the south side of Bangalore, a stringent detox regimen is accompanied by medical lectures, psychological counseling, volleyball, table tennis, yoga and a bit of gardening. Patients may not carry cash or cellphones. Other than Sunday trips to local temples, the men are confined to the pale green walls of the clinic. These walls don’t trade in subtlety: one crude mural shows a weeping wife, gossiping neighbors, and a dead husband sprawled next to a few empty liquor bottles.

Aside from drivers, the patients include conductors, mechanics and guards. Once in a while, an employee will run away during the first painful days of detox. (The security here is not quite as strict as some of the shady private rehab clinics around Bangalore, which specialize in lockdown and intimidation.) But his supervisor will usually manage to track him down and compel him to return with the next batch of patients.

Pradeep and the other detoxed employees sit before a blackboard, watching psychiatrist Mamatha Shetty circle “liver” with a stick of chalk. Together, the class makes a list of physical ailments linked to alcohol. They have been over this ground before, and it still sticks in Pradeep’s mind, he says, how badly his old friend Raja Whisky could have damaged his liver and kidneys.

In another room, the fifteen men in Pradeep’s batch kneel on a striped carpet. They follow the instructions of Prakash Yogi, a grizzled yoga master, running through a series of pranayama exercises. He advises them to avoid alcohol and rise above negative thoughts. “The mind is the main cause of bondage and liberation,” he tells them.

Perhaps he has a point. But it’s also true that his pupils must contend with tough schedules and terrible roads which have an oppressive character all their own. “If the roads are good and it’s not bumpy, maybe I wouldn’t feel like drinking,” says Shashikant Dhage, a slender 32-year-old bus driver from Gulbarga. While the national highways earn his praise, interior roads remain treacherous.

Another driver, 41-year-old Shivaswamy, recounts how he’d drive from 5:30 am to midnight for two days in a row, covering 1,200 kilometers. He needed the overtime pay. And more and more, he found himself needing nine pegs of whiskey to get to sleep. The soft-spoken driver insists that he never caused an accident. But he realized that he was having trouble steering the bus. Like Pradeep, he could see his hands shaking.

Not Just Bus Drivers

Health experts and traffic technocrats argue that alcohol is a critical variable in road accidents in India—yet one that remains poorly understood. More commonly cited factors are speeding, fatigue, and badly engineered roads. But with heavy drinking habits taking hold in all social classes, road safety appears increasingly elusive.

Nearly 180,000 people lost their lives in road accidents in India last year, according to estimates from the Bangalore-based World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion. A whopping ninety lakh people were left injured. In 2010, India overtook China in the worst road traffic accident rate in the world, according to the WHO’s first Global Status Report on Road Safety. And the number of deaths on the road is increasing by eight percent each year, according to researchers from the Transportation Research and Injury Prevention Programme.

Why isn’t more attention paid to the booze factor?

One explanation is lack of documentation. Many Indian hospitals don’t have breathalyzers or other detection equipment, and even if they do, neglect to test for alcohol intake when an injured body or corpse arrives. “A dead man is forgiven,” says Praveen Sood, Additional Director General of Police (ADG) in Karnataka. “It is culturally incorrect to check his blood and tell his family that he was drunk and that’s why he died. We are a sentimental people.”

In the absence of comprehensive data, India’s insurance industry has not seen fit to create a deterrent by linking premium hikes with drunk driving violations, as occurs in other countries. Driving licenses are rarely cancelled, and even suspensions are few.

Yet much is known about India’s perilous drinking habits. Binge drinking among youth is on the rise, coupled with the euphoria that comes from driving fast in impulsive late-night escapades. “There is no regret, even when they have bashed up their dad’s car,” notes Paul Lobo, director of Higher Power Foundation, a private rehab center in Bangalore. “They are busy chasing the next high.”

Studies show that male drinkers of all ages much prefer hardcore spirits to lighter beverages like beer and wine. Solitary drinking at bars on weeknights and mornings tends to be the pattern, rather than drinking at home. In rural areas, such habits endanger inebriated pedestrians who wander onto highways on their way back to their beds.

“On the highways, it is a deadly combination of drinking and driving, over-speeding and poor visibility,” asserts Dr. G. Gururaj, professor of epidemiology at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) in Bangalore. According to figures from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, nearly 64 per cent of India’s crash fatalities occur on the highways, yet experts concur that there is no enforcement of drunk driving laws there. Police plead lack of manpower and technical resources to conduct surveillance on such vast stretches of road.

Meanwhile, state excise commissioners have largely ignored pleas from the central government to remove booze shops from the edge of the highways. State budgets rely heavily on alcohol revenues, spurring reluctance. “The state governments have not realized that they are spending more on managing alcohol-related problems than what they are earning from alcohol sales,” Gururaj observes.

In cities, light fines have had scant impact. And many of the breathalyzers purchased by police departments are cheap Chinese-made gadgets that provide “erratic readings,” according to Ridhu Sehgal, partner in Integra Design, a New-Delhi based firm that sells road safety products, police car fittings and mobility solutions for the physically challenged.

Last month, the Puma Social Club, a lounge in Bangalore, took the novel step of installing a breathalyzer that will give patrons a reading designed to tell them if it’s safe to drive home. This has, as the owners ruefully noted, spurred some giddy young drinkers to compete to see who has the highest level of alcohol in their bloodstream.

So far, there are absolutely no takers in India for alcohol ignition interlocks, which would automatically prevent a car or bus from starting if a drunk driver sits at the wheel and sets off electro-chemical sensors. “There is a general bias against anything that restricts the freedom of people driving their own cars,” Sehgal says. His firm has been trying to promote the Alcolock, a device assembled and tested in Canada.

Yet Dinesh Mohan, professor emeritus at the Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi, argues that there could be broad public support for installing such technology in public transport, given the right amount of attention.


Some cities are spearheading a crackdown on drunk drivers. Jail time is no longer unusual in Mumbai, where 50,234 people have been confined on the charge of drunk driving since mid-2007. “Punishment of even one or two days of imprisonment sends a very strong message,” says Vivek Phansalkar, Joint Commissioner of Police in Mumbai. An after-dark breathalyzer campaign has also instilled some hesitation to imbibe without a designated driver who stays sober. “Fear of getting caught is most crucial. There is no let-up. We are changing times, changing locations. The surprise element is there,” says Phansalkar.

In Bangalore, police have lobbied city pubs and trendy lounges to help their wobbly clientele to call a cab. “We are trying to bring the bars around to the idea that ‘your customers should remain alive, so you get more business’,” says ADGP Praveen Sood. Clearly, this is not a replay of a Gandhian prohibition campaign.

Even a small city like Visakhapatnam has quadrupled its drunk driving cases over just three years. The authorities there have found that the majority of drunk drivers are in their twenties, or merely teenagers. In January, Visakhapatnam police launched a campaign called “Arrive Alive,” and have tried to bring that message home to college students, together with counseling for youngsters and their families.

Yet much more remains to be done in urban areas, emphasizes Rohit Baluja, president of the Institute of Road Traffic Education. “Campaigns against drunk driving are going on in eight or ten cities. Even there, it is done sporadically, not wholeheartedly,” he complains.

As for bus companies, none have chosen to follow the lead of KSRTC and systematically send drivers to rehab, according to the Association of State Road Transport Undertakings (ASRTU). One place to start might be Andhra Pradesh, where the AP State Road Transport Corporation recorded 2,146 fatal bus accidents from 2008 to 2011. Or try Maharashtra, where the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation recorded 1,214 fatal accidents during the same period. The Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation could also take a shot at rehab, with 1,169 fatal accidents recorded in those three years. Alcoholism is “one of the very primary things in transport that needs to be addressed,” says ASRTU executive director Ananda Rao.

Back in Bangalore, psychiatrist Mamatha Shetty also tries to explain the psychological symptoms including alcoholic hallucinations. “Even if nobody is talking, you think someone is talking,” she tells patients. “You get some smell. You get some taste. Hearing voices is very common.” The drinker often responds angrily to the voices in his head, those scolding, excoriating voices. And the neighbors gawk, just like they do in the mural.

Are such sessions effective? That remains unclear. Over forty days, each patient spends very little time one-on-one with the psychiatrist, and not all of them are ready to talk about their problems. Some prefer to blame demanding wives or hard-drinking buddies rather than engage in any introspection.

According to Shetty, worldwide relapse rates are 40 percent to 60 percent, “and KSRTC is no exception.” But company officials cite a success rate of nearly 60 percent — drawing on follow-up data from local supervisors–and emphasize that those who keep guzzling are sent for another attempt at rehab at NIMHANS. “We are really proud of this type of programme,” says KSRTC chief executive officer N. Manjunatha Prasad.

Meanwhile, counsellors urge participants to take pride in spending more money on family needs, instead of alcohol. Shivaswamy, for example, says he intends to put Rs. 5,000 monthly into a fixed deposit account to pay for his son and daughter’s education. Pradeep, a bachelor, says he intends to send Rs. 8, 000 home to his parents in his village each month.

Redirecting funds spent on alcohol could make a big difference in many corners of India. Much more research remains to be done on the economic consequences of heavy drinking, beyond the commonly cited figure that it soaks up 3% of the country’s GDP. In fact, many heavy drinkers are spending nearly 50 percent of their income on alcohol, according to a 2012 NIMHANS report. That leaves a lot less to spend on food, health, and education.

Those spending habits also impose a broader burden. The same report says that “a third of the population surveyed had experience of having to work extra hours to cover for a colleague or a workmate’s drinking.”

Former rehab patients swing by the KSRTC clinic to provide upbeat testimonials. A crew restroom caretaker, B.V. Nagareddy, credits the programme with giving him the motivation to save money to send his two children to study for MBA degrees. Fifty-six year-old mechanic M. Devadas, now sober, tells the assembled men to pay close heed to Prakash Yogi’s advice to avoid liquor. He compares the yoga master to a succulent blossom. “We should be like honeybees, and make honey from the flowers,” says Devadas. “Take this and make good use of it.”

But outside these pale green walls, a different sort of nectar beckons.

Margot Cohen is a writer from New York. Her interest in India follows previous reporting stints in Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

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Road deaths set to soar unless transport policies change radically

Road deaths will dramatically increase in the world’s poorest countries unless governments and multilateral development banks swiftly and radically overhaul their transport policies, according to a new report.

Already, 1.3 million people lose their lives on the world’s roads every year, with road accidents now one of the leading causes of death in the developing world.

In its new report, the Make Roads Safe campaign, a global coalition co-ordinated by the FIA Foundation, warns that deaths will see a “relentless increase” if sustainable transport policies are not put at the heart of debates on development after the millennium goals expire in 2015.

The rising death toll will largely affect the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. According to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, there are about 134,000 recorded road deaths in the country every year. The Make Roads Safe campaign predicts that India could add 90,000 deaths by 2016 if transport policies remain unchanged.

“The message we must take from this report is that road safety is one of the biggest development challenges facing the international community,” said the report’s author Kevin Watkins, from the Brookings Institution.

“The basic problem is that road and transport planners in developing countries and the powerful multilateral development banks continue to think of transport systems as a question of journey times, speed and cost, and neglect to put people first.”

Despite the criticism, multilateral development banks say efforts are being made to ensure that sustainable transport is considered central to any new infrastructure projects funded by bank loans. At the UN’s Rio+20 conference on sustainable development in June, eight of the world’s largest development banks announced they were to jointly invest $175bn in sustainable transportation systems over the coming decade.

“At the World Bank, we are committed to working on road safety as part of our strategy for safe, clean and affordable transport for development,” said Jose Luis Irigoyen, director for transport, water and IT. “Our new projects in countries such as Argentina show the right direction, which is a more holistic approach. We will continue to work … to ensure that road traffic deaths and injuries are never a price to pay for development.”

The report also says unsustainable transport policies pose a major threat to efforts to tackle air pollution and climate change. A huge increase in the numbers of cars across the world will inevitably increase the number of people dying from air pollution. Outdoor air pollution already kills as many people as traffic accidents, with up to 90% of the pollutants for these deaths – such as carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide – coming from petrol-fuelled vehicles.

Even though many existing transport policies are focused on economic progress, traffic congestion loses up to 3% of the GDP of many major cities.

The Make Roads Safe campaign says responsibility for the failure to make transport sustainable lies at the door of national governments and the multilateral development banks.

Many governments have failed to implement sustainable policies or even enforce existing road safety legislation, yet development banks that spend billions of dollars every year financing road building systematically neglect safety, and put speed and economic efficiency over the safety of people.

“Over the past few years we have been hearing a lot of encouraging mood music from the World Bank and other multilateral development banks around road safety but precious little action,” said Watkins.

“A simple proposition such as ensuring that no transport-related proposal goes to the board unless it … [includes] a clear target for reducing road deaths and meeting basic safety standards would make a huge difference yet this still fails to be done. They need to get off the fence and start taking responsibility for tackling a growing problem, which their institutions are clearly reinforcing.”

The report calls for the inclusion of sustainable transport and road safety within the post-2015 sustainable development goals, targeting a 50% reduction in global road deaths by 2030. It wants an extra $200m (£130m) spent each year on aiding the development of national road safety strategies in the poorest countries.

At what it calls a “crucial” time for halting a surge in road deaths, the Make Roads Safe campaign is urging donors, governments and development banks to build on the consensus at Rio+20 that safe and sustainable transport must be an essential component of development strategy. It says that the current debates on a post-2015 development agenda provide the opportunity to reframe transport policy around safety and sustainability.

“This is the first year that we have seen the big development banks really sitting up and making sustainable transport an active part of their agenda,” said Cornie Huizenga, joint convener for the partnership on sustainable, low carbon transport, who lobbied on sustainable transport at the Rio+20 conference last year.

“There is a growing realisation that with rapid global urbanisation we are facing critical choices about what kind of transport infrastructure we need to have, and that the old model of simply building roads isn’t going to work on any human, environmental or economic level.

“For the first time I am genuinely optimistic that sustainable transport can and will be included in the post-2015 development agenda, although obviously we have huge challenges ahead when it comes to getting our voice heard amid the competing demands of the different sectors such as energy and agriculture to have their agenda represented in a set of new sustainable development goals, but I do think the momentum is building.”

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Reduction of road fatalities in Spain in 2012

2012 was the 9th consecutive year in reducing road fatalities in Spain, achieving a new record.

The number of fatalities was 1304 with a reduction of 180 people in comparison with 2011. As average there is a reduction of 4 fatalities per day.

Most of the fatal accidents happened between during the day time involving run-offs in conventional roads. The number of accidents involving vulnerable users such as pedestrians has been reduced while number of accidents involving motorcyclists was quite similar to previous year. However, number of fatalities of cyclists increased.

As regards road safety devices and victims, the percentage of fatalities involving drivers not using seat belts was 22%, while the non-use of helmets for motorcyclists represented only 4%. However, despite numerous awareness-raising campaigns to use helmets, the number of fatalities of moped users without helmet was 31%. In Spain, the use of mopeds is very common due to favourable weather conditions.

In general, these numbers are positive considering the 364,8 millions of long-distance journeys completed in 2012. Spain represents a positive example in road safety as result of the coordination between different actors involved in mobility for the last years.

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Global Status Report on Road Safety 2013

Road traffic injuries kill nearly 1.3 million people annually. If current trends continue, road crashes are predicted to become the fifth leading cause of death by 2030.

Until recently, the extent of the road safety situation around the world was unclear. In 2009 WHO published the Global status report on road safety as the first assessment of the road safety situation at the global level.

Monitoring tool

In March 2010 the UN General Assembly proclaimed the period 2011-2020 as the Decade of Action for Road Safety. The goal of the Decade is to stabilize and then reduce the forecast level of road traffic deaths around the world. Global status reports will serve as tools for monitoring the impact of the Decade.

Global Status Report on Road Safety 2013

In 2011 WHO began work on the second such report. The objectives of this new Global status report are:

  • to indicate the gaps in road safety nationally and thereby stimulate road safety activities
  • to describe the road safety situation in all Member States and assess changes that have occurred since the publication of the first Global status report.
  • to serve as a baseline for monitoring activities relating to the Decade of Action for Road Safety at the national and international levels.
  • Data collection will begin in early 2011 and will be carried out in all WHO Member States that agree to participate, working through WHO Regional and Country offices. The Report will be launched on 14 March 2013.

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How Australia reduced road death toll

The number of deaths on South African roads is staggering. With about 14 000 people killed on South African roads each year the cost of this tragic harvest is impossible to calculate. There are war zones in other parts of the world that offer better odds of survival.

I hesitate to point to Australia’s experience in curbing the impact of road trauma. Frankly, I believe our experience is far from the international benchmark and we have a lot of room for further improvement.

However, I know that many South Africans do cite the improvement in road safety that has been achieved in Australia over recent decades as a possible model and there may be some lessons to be learned.

The South African experience does have to be viewed in context. Around the world, approximately 1.2 million people will be killed in road crashes this year. More than 90 percent of these road fatalities will occur in the world’s poorest countries and the African continent shows the highest levels of road deaths per 100 000 population. Indeed, the World Health Organisation projects that without action to change current trends, by 2030 road trauma will increase dramatically and rise from ninth to fifth on the list of leading causes of death worldwide.


In response to this global epidemic, the UN has proclaimed a Decade of Action for Road Safety from 2011 till 2020. The Decade of Action must result in tangible outcomes and I remain hopeful that it will provide a rallying point for setting ambitious targets and for co-ordinated action on road safety.

Currently, the fatality rate on the roads in South Africa is 27.5 deaths per 100 000 people, each year. While no level of road deaths is acceptable, a target to halve this current level of fatalities by 2020 is realistic. I know my colleagues at the AA in South Africa have urged the adoption of this target and the measures to implement it. If achieved, it could save the lives of 20 000 South Africans who don’t need to die needlessly between now and 2020.


In Australia, we currently suffer around 5.8 deaths per 100 000 people each year – down from a peak of 30 in 1970, which is when we can say Australia started to take road safety seriously. The number of road deaths in Australia has reduced from 3798 in 1970 to 1308 over the past year – despite increases in population and vehicle use.

This progress has been the result of a range of initiatives including road improvements, safer vehicles, as well as behavioural and enforcement programmes targeting drunk driving, seatbelt wearing, fatigue and speeding.

There is no silver bullet to addressing the road death toll and it cannot be solved overnight. Road safety initiatives require support from all levels of government, as well as a range of stakeholders including road users, media, police, healthcare providers, schools, local government, vehicle manufacturers, employers and the wider community.


Importantly, while there are always going to be exceptions, there has been a significant change in broad community behaviour and attitudes. Early campaigns to change behaviour were confrontational and often used “shock” advertising with slogans labelling drunk drivers as “bloody idiots” and graphic video images of road crashes and the resulting trauma to pound home the message.

Equally, the improvement in road safety outcomes in Australia has come at a price, financially and socially. Australians have had to accept tougher regulations, road rules, vehicle standards – and tough enforcement measures have been a key part of the solution.

The “pain” of a fine or loss of licence demerit points is far preferable to the impact of loss of life, or serious injury, and today many more Australians understand that bending the rules on the road can trigger consequences.


Looking to the future there is an increasing need to look for smarter and more cost-effective solutions to underpin the planning and investment required to meet our needs for continuing improvements in road infrastructure.

This affects not only the ability to travel between locations but the design and constrction elements of the road can have a large influence on the likelihood and severity of crashes. Factors such as the quality of the road surface, line marking, width of the road shoulder, width of road lanes, the opportunity for safe overtaking of slow-moving traffic and separate pavement areas for pedestrians all help to improve the safety of road users.


Physical barriers between lanes of traffic travelling in opposite directions, removal or protection of obstacles close to the roadside, such as poles and trees, can all dramatically affect the safety of the road system.

While reductions in road trauma require the support and participation of many stakeholders, governments are ultimately responsible for setting the policy agenda, providing leadership and driving the change.

Without this courage and commitment, gains in road safety stall or are eroded.

The most encouraging thing in South Africa is that it seems the public want to do something about the alarming number of road fatalities. The trauma, pain and suffering that stem from road crashes are ultimately preventable. – Cape Argus

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South Africa: Over 1 400 People Die in Accidents During Festive Season

Pretoria — Transport Minister Ben Martins has announced that 1 465 people lost their lives on the country’s roads during the festive season.

The main causes of the road fatalities during the period between 1 December 2012 and 8 January 2013 were drunken driving, excessive speeding, dangerous overtaking, not using seatbelts and unroadworthy vehicles.

There were 1 221 fatal accidents recorded during the period.

In the 2011/2012 festive season period, 1 475 people died on the country’s roads.

Speaking in Durban on Thursday, Martins said the 2012 festive season road safety campaign had, among other things, emphasised the need for drivers and passengers to buckle up whenever they start a journey – even if it is for a short journey.

“People who buckle up have a greater chance of surviving when they get involved in road accidents. A number of passengers, especially women and children, died because they were not wearing seatbelts.”

He said approximately 40% of the fatalities involved pedestrians, most of whom walk on the road while drunk.

“I should like to, on behalf of the Ministry and the Department of Transport, express our sincere condolences to all those who lost loved ones over the festive season … Road traffic fatalities are amongst the main causes of death in South Africa. This results in serious social and economic costs for the country. These consequences include the loss of family members, breadwinners and leave behind traumatised families.”

He said at least R306 billion is lost to the economy due to road fatalities each year.

“During the festive season, 17 000 traffic officers were deployed on our roads to police a road network of over 750 000km, used by more than 10 million cars,” he said.

Martins added that going forward, the department will review existing legislative instruments to identify areas that need strengthening and further improvements.

“Amongst others, we will review the current alcohol limit, support the total ban on alcohol advertising, harsher measures for serial and habitual offenders including naming and shaming them, stringent criteria on driver’s licence application and school campaigns on road safety,” he said.

The department will also develop a single national policy on the role and functions of the road safety councils which will mobilise communities to participate in road safety campaigns.

It will also take further steps towards the implementation of the driver’s licence demerit system and further technological innovations regarding the use of speed cameras.

“Achieving the goals that we have set … will require greater co-operation between the department and all citizens. The department is committed to carrying out this responsibility to reduce road fatalities by 50% by the end of the UN Decade of Road Safety in 2020,” said the minister.

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Current Activities
  • Advocacy to make National Highways safe by seeking compliance of Control of National Highways (Land & Traffic) Act, 2002
  • Advocacy to get liquor vends removed from highways
  • Road Safety Education and Awareness program in Rajasthan State, India – a World Bank funded project
  • Advocacy for strict punishment to drivers accused in ’Hit-and-Run’ incidents