In 2021, India saw a distressing trend of road accidents, resulting in over 150,000 fatalities. Nearly 90% of these were attributed to reckless behaviours such as speeding, dangerous overtaking, and careless driving. Further driving the point home, though India owns only 1% of the world’s vehicles, the country accounts for almost 10% of all crash related deaths.
Various factors have contributed to the trend, including poorly maintained roads, inadequate vehicle conditions, and subpar road design and engineering. And the impacts of these accidents extend beyond individual lives - there’s also a toll on the nation's economy. Reports estimate that road crashes cost the India between 3 to 5% of its GDP annually, reinforcing the need for urgent and comprehensive measures to address the issue.
India’s Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety demanded a solution to the escalating numbers of road accidents, injuries, and fatalities. In response, Odisha’s State Transport Authority (STA) set out to achieve "Zero Fatalities and Road Accident Injuries” and launched the Road Safety Project with Palladium as Technical Support Unit. "Human life must take priority," says Kailas Patil, Director of Palladium India.
“Our involvement spans strategic advisory, capacity building, stakeholder engagement, and procurement guidance. We are committed to fostering a safer road environment through dedicated program management and insights garnered from our experience of working with State Transport Corporations."
Patil explains that the project team so far has kicked off several successful activities. Over 1755 heavy vehicle drivers underwent skill enhancement, 3000 kilometres of road signage underwent scrutiny, 55 trauma care centres were proposed for trauma cases, and close to 700 vehicles were tested and retired through the Registered Vehicle Scrapping Facility policy. “Perhaps most importantly, is that in the second quarter of 2023, the road accidents were down by 7.5% and fatalities decreased by 6.2% in Odisha, showing clear impact of our collaboration with STA.”
“The team also conducted more than 50 accident investigations, which informed corrective actions for road structure improvements such as proper installation of road signages and road markings as per Indian Road Congress standards, implementation of traffic calming measures such as rumble strips at intersections and crash prone areas to reduce speeding, installation of metal beam crash barriers with reflective tapes at blind curves and hilly roads to provide clear visibility for drivers” adds Patil.
STA also initiated a state-level program named 'Rakshak,' in which 12,000 volunteers residing or working in areas prone to accidents were trained to provide immediate first aid and pre-hospital trauma care to accident victims within an hour of an incident. Additionally, these volunteers are aware of the Good Samaritan Policy, which rewards them for their assistance. To date, 585 Good Samaritans have been recognised since the policy started.
“Beyond saving lives, Rakshak training cultivates a sense of responsibility and solidarity among citizens, making our roads safer and fostering community unity,” explains Patil. With a pronounced shift in safety culture, Odisha was classified as a "High Performer" by the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety.
“Odisha's road safety efforts stand as a testament to determination, collaboration, and strategic planning,” notes Amit Patjoshi, CEO of Palladium India. “The ripple effect of this transformation is profound, breathing new life into communities and fostering safer environments. We are constantly striving to make Odisha a beacon of road safety by showcasing the potent impact of road safety initiatives on lives and communities.”
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