New Delhi: Showing how crash investigations, road safety audits, black spot rectification, zero tolerance days for traffic violations and community outreach can together help in lowering accidents and consequently fatalities, a road safety project undertaken in Haryana, titled Haryana Vision Zero (HVZ), has seen a 10% reduction in fatalities in the districts it was launched in.
HVZ programme covered 10 most vulnerable districts
In the case of Haryana, where 5,200 lives were lost in road crashes in 2017, about 500 lives have been saved over the past year due to this programme. The state ranks fifth in India in terms of number of fatalities per 1,00,000 population with 19.22 deaths per year. Overall, it is ranked 13th in the total number of fatalities across the country.
The HVZ programme was launched in May 2017 when a memorandum of understanding was signed by Haryana government with with NASSCOM and WRI India to develop a strategy that sought to achieve zero road traffic deaths.
According to Sarika Panda Bhatt, head of Integrated Transport and Road Safety, Sustainable Cities, at WRI India, the first phase of HVZ started in July 2017 and 10 most vulnerable districts of Haryana were chosen as part of the program.
Four Es were at the core of road safety strategy
The HVZ programme comprised four key areas of work – engineering, enforcement, education and emergency. It brought into focus the components of engineering and enforcement to piece together the overall road safety strategy.
Elaborating on how the project was implemented, Bhatt said each district had been assigned one designated Road Safety Associate who acted as a focal point for all road safety work and was backed by a programme management team. These teams then carried out crash investigations, road safety audits, suggested black spot rectification, worked on having zero tolerance days for traffic violations and undertook community outreach.
In line with the four Es, specific projects were undertaken. As part of “engineering”, 4160 km of road inspection was undertaken, 760 road crashes were investigated and 78 black spots were audited.
Similarly, when it came to “enforcement”, as many as 310 zero tolerance drives were observed, automatic e-challaning was introduced, an increase of about 80% was achieved in challans for over speeding, and CCTV cameras were installed in three districts.
The “education” part was handled through conduct of more that 500 road safety awareness campaigns. Apart from this, a `Raahgiri Day’ was observed in all the districts to raise awareness around pedestrians and cyclists.
Finallly, when it came to “emergency care”, the project saw the implementation of the recommendation for setting up traffic assistance booths on three major national highways passing through the state – namely NH1, NH2 and NH10.
Comprehensive road inspections, accident investigations provided data for corrective action
According to Bhatt, during the course of the programme over the last one year, the HVZ programme saw 4,160 km of roads being inspected for design and engineering flaws; 760 traffic crashes being investigated in a scientific manner; 78 blackspots audited; 295 zero tolerance drives carried out, 87 District Road Safety Committee (DRSC) meetings held in all the 10 districts; and 1,040 reports being submitted to the state government.
She said in keeping with the findings of these reports, about 80% of infrastructure improvement recommendations were implemented by the Haryana Government and National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).
The comprehensive checks and the consequent actions have had the desired result. Bhatt insisted that “the ten districts under the HVZ programme have shown a decline of 10% in road traffic deaths while the rest of the state has shown an increase in the same”. Furthermore, she said, the successes have been more pronounced in the smaller districts like Hisar and Ambala with 21% and 20% decline in road traffic fatalities.
Gurugram ‘fared very poorly’ as it did not act on recommendations
But the project also had a notable laggard in Gurugram which, Bhatt said, “fared very poorly with an increase in road crash fatalities by 16%.”
On the reasons behind this district, which is also home to the “millennium city”, performing abysmally was that it did very little to implement most of the recommendations.
“While the district had conducted 136 crash investigations, 602 km of road inspections, 55 km of Pedestrian audits, 14 blackspots analysed and 839 FIR’s investigated. Gurugram has done very little in implementing most of the recommendations. The lack of work done on ground has meant that road crash fatalities have been on the rise. This in turn has brought down the overall average performance of the programme substantially,” said Bhatt.
In the case of Delhi’s satellite city, she said “the reason why it could not bring down numbers was due to the fact that they did not implement most of the recommendations.” Stating that the shortcoming was both in the working of the NHAI and Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority, now acting on the reports submitted to them. She said four reports were summited to NHAI for National Highway 48, which was earlier NH8, as one stretch on it which was around 20 kilometres long had witnessed 421 deaths from 2011 to 2017. But no action was taken.
Project now expanded to cover all 22 districts
However, considering the overall success of the programme, the policy makers have expanded the HVZ programme to cover all 22 districts of the state for the year 2018-19.
Terming traffic deaths as “not only a public health issue,but an epidemic”, Bhatt said India ranks number one in deaths due to road accidents in the world with about 150,000 fatalities being reported last year. “This means that India, which has only 2% of the total global motor vehicle share, contributes to 12% of the global road traffic fatalities,” she quipped.
She said though over the years several committees, expert groups, task forces had been setup at national, state and city level and various recommendations had been made on the same topic, there was “no real impact on ground” and in fact the number of road fatalities only rose meteorically.
`Project succeeded as it showed ‘how’ to achieve goals’
On the reasons for past studies not succeeding in making the roads any safer for the users, Bhatt said was that most recommendations centred around ‘what’ needs to be done rather than focussing on “how” to achieve those goals.
“This is where Haryana Vision Zero or HVZ as it is known has made a difference,” she said, adding that keeping in mind that road safety is challenging since it is multidisciplinary and involves multiple agencies, the HVZ may just have figured out a structure of getting things implemented on ground and proving to be a game changer for the country.