Vision Zero — Aiming for better road safety

Frankly, we won’t bother until it happens to us. Until the tragedy strikes us. And I must say that there is nothing wrong in being indifferent; it’s just human nature. But we need to change that attitude.

Right here. Right now.

Road accidents make more than 1/3rd of all unnatural deaths in India. That’s more than 400,000 deaths every year! What would you rather choose: better road safety or increasing number of deaths on the road?

At ZENE, we aim for zero fatalities and serious injuries on roads. We aim to use our technology for better road safety. We aim for Vision Zero.

“Vision Zero” project was initiated in Sweden with an aim to improve road safety and reduce number of fatalities in road accidents. While it is an on-going effort, the project has shown some commendable improvements in road safety. Sweden has been able to decrease road deaths by 34%.

This program brought together motoring organisations, vehicle manufacturers and road authorities to develop protocols for identifying and communicating road accident risk and to develop tools and best practice guidelines for engineering safer roads. (Ref: Vision Zero)

That said, what works in smaller countries such as Sweden won’t work for us. The complexity and number of variables are significantly higher in our country than others can even imagine. We need to design systems that integrate practical issues that we face on Indian roads.

Not just better road infrastructure, support services such as road-side-assistance and mobilizing on-time medical support are of key importance.

For me, there are three parts to road safety. First being road infrastructure and safety considerations (quality, enforcement) around the infrastructure. Second is safer driving behavior and conditions. And third being support structure and response, should the accident happen.

Infrastructure:

While our road infrastructure is improving, at least in urban area, there is a lot left to be desired. A simple case in point: a significant majority of us travel by either public or shared transportation. And not having safer access to destination makes us fend for our safety. What I mean by that is we don’t have overhead bridges across city highways (Noida Expressway for that matter), and people tend to run across highways — excited, though scared. They are not to be blamed; they don’t have right accesses.

Behavior:

Driving behavior is more of a personal problem. But giving that a free pass at the expense of someone’s life is unpardonable. That said, behavior can be changed either with right enforcement or with the aid of technology. Making cars safer is the mandate; making drivers safer is what we need to work on.

Car manufacturers are now providing sensors based intelligent systems that could alert drivers of unsafe driving and, also, its impact on overall car’s performance and mileage. There are after-market products that could help you achieve similar or better results. Technology could not only tell unsafe driving behavior, but also whether vehicle is safe to drive.

Technology can also aid authorities in devising action plans for areas and intersections that are prone to accidents. Not only that, technology could feed the data about road condition (potholes, traffic load etc) back to authorities to take targeted action.

Support:

Even if we have everything in order, accidents will happen. What matters is how we respond to the situation. Could emergency support and ambulance be notified automatically about the crash, along with intensity and location of crash? These, possibly, are some simple steps that could lead to significant drop in casualties.

Citizen’s life is of utmost importance and we must ensure that we don’t compromise. Everything else can wait.

Aim for better road-safety. Aim for better driving sense.

We aim for “Vision Zero”. Do you?

Photo/Logo courtesy: nyc.gov Vision Zero Initiative


Originally published at getzene.com on June 26, 2015.

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