Safe Infrastructure

For over years, India has invested enormously on road construction. However, road engineering, road maintenance continue to be neglected at the cost of the lives of millions every year. Government authorities seem to believe that construction of roads all that what matters for rapid economic development, ignoring the road safety aspects.

A study by the Planning Commission of India estimated the societal costs of road accidents in India at 550 billion rupees (over 1.5 billion US$) annually. The cost of road accidents in developed countries constitutes about 1 to 2 percent of gross domestic product; the corresponding figure for India is about 3 percent. The government authorities and their political bosses in India seem to be blissfully unaware of the fact that India loses 3% of its GDP to road crashes every year. Many of the deaths happen in rural areas, and one study found that 70% of families who lose their main wage earner in a traffic accident subsequently fall below the poverty line. Thousands of kilometers of roads are built in India every year without proper directions and lane systems, absence of service roads and pedestrian paths, haphazard construction activities and markets on the road sides and ill conceived speed breakers, traffic junctions and fly-overs.

A report of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) reveals that more than one fatality occurring every 2 km on average on the national high ways. The report also suggests that the major contributing factors resulting in higher fatality rates on national highways include higher speed, a higher proportion of truck traffic, infrastructure inadequacies, a lack of driver education, vehicle designs, out dated vehicles and badly maintained vehicles causing hazardous emissions, mis-match between road infrastructure and vehicular design and a lack of law enforcement. With an average vehicle growth of 10.16 percent annually over a period of five years, as reported by NHAI, the potential safety issues within the next decade will be very challenging.

Key Message: Construction of roads alone don’t create infrastructure. Infrastructure development is not complete without ensuring its maintenance, training people how to use it and creating contingencies.

Disclaimer: This article is a reflection of author’s personal thoughts, and all rights reserved by SAFE CITIZEN.ORG

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