How Nitin Gadkari is trying to change the way you drive on Indian roads
Gadkari's most important imprint on Indian roads would be electric mobility. The minister aims to set India on its way to fully electric mobility by 2030.
However, the maximum percentage of deaths occurred on other roads (37.6 per cent).
The accident severity was higher in 2016 than it was in 2015. Severity is measured as the number of persons killed per 100 accidents. It was recorded at 31.4 in 2016, compared to 29.1 in 2015.
What these numbers point to, loud and clear, is that there is a need for a shift in regulations and laws to improve the overall safety of Indian roads. Nitin Gadkari, the Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways, has taken groundbreaking steps to not only enhance your driving experience but also make you safer.
Directives to manufacturers
The transport ministry yesterday announced the latest in a slew of measures to put the country in a safer direction. All cars manufactured after July 1, 2019, will have to be equipped with airbags, seat-belt reminders, alert systems for speeds beyond 80 kmph, reverse parking alerts, as well as manual override over the central locking system for emergencies.
Speeding alone accounted for nearly 74,000 of the 1.51 lakh deaths in road accidents last year. The new cars will be fitted with a system that issues audio alerts when the speed crosses 80 kmph. The alert will be sharper when the vehicle crosses 100 kmph, and non-stop when it's over 120 kmph.
According to the reports, a large proportion of these accidents were caused by what is classified as "driver's faults" (84 per cent). The Road Transport and Safety Bill, 2014, proposed a nationwide framework for larger fines for driver offenses, but that bill was opposed by several states, stating it encroached upon the financial, legislative and administrative powers of state governments.
On the evidence of the last two years, the fines have not acted as deterrents to violations in roads. Under most sections of the Motor Vehicles Act, the number of cases registered by traffic police officers across the country has gone up. In Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, the number of cases under the MV Act has gone up by at least 20 per cent. However, it is quite possible that heavy fines deter many from risky driving.
But fines acting as deterrents are not the only steps taken by Gadkari.
The most ambitious roads project
Poor roads have been a cause for a large number of accidents, and Gadkari, under the BharatMala project, has proposed to construct 34,800 km of highways at the cost of Rs 5.35 lakh crore.
In 2015, 10,727 people were killed in crashes caused by potholes, speed breakers and roads under repair or being constructed. The quality of roads is something that has needed improvement for a long time. BharatMala is part of a larger highway project, under which approximately 83,677 km of roads will be constructed at an investment of Rs 6.92 lakh crore by 2022.
Last month, Gadkari said the roads ministry is laying 28 km of roads per day, as against 2 km per day before he took over as minister.
The road-construction project is important to the government in terms of the proposed roads also acting as feeders in big economic routes, and pushing up employment, during construction. But the new roads would also mean higher safety and enhanced driving experience.
The electric push
Gadkari's most important imprint on Indian roads would be electric mobility. The minister aims to set India on its way to fully electric mobility by 2030, and there have been concerted initiatives to ensure that more companies shift towards electric mobility.
In a city like Delhi which is grappling with dangerous air pollution, vehicular pollution is a prime cause for the poor quality of air. A fully electric automotive fleet is projected to reduce emissions by 30-40 per cent, making the air that much cleaner and fitter to inhale.
So, not only is Gadkari improving the quality and the safety of India's drivers, he is also on his way to ensure that you have a healthier drive in cities and towns that are among the world's most polluted.