In response to the directive from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, the Maharashtra State Transport Department has announced a comprehensive road safety awareness campaign set to commence on January 15 and run until February 14, 2024.
"This month-long initiative aims to raise awareness about road safety measures and promote responsible driving habits among citizens," said an official adding that this initiative aims to bring together various stakeholders for a comprehensive approach to enhance road safety across the state.
According to the state transport department, this awareness campaign involves collaboration with multiple entities, including police departments, traffic police, public works departments, national highways departments, education and health departments, charitable organizations, motor driving schools, vehicle dealers, PUC centres, vehicle manufacturing companies, and insurance companies.
Under this awareness campaign, district-level road safety committees will convene meetings with police, health, education, and public works departments to strategize and plan the execution of programs under the campaign.
Apart from that banners/posters carrying road safety messages will be strategically placed in squares, main roads, and crucial locations. Handbills, paper badges, and guidance booklets will be distributed at offices, border checkpoints, and areas with high vehicle traffic. Posters related to road safety will be placed at petrol pumps, garages, dhabas, and service centers.
Focus on traffic, safety rules
Similarly, Instructors at motor driving schools will undergo refresher workshops, focusing on traffic awareness, safety rules, road signs, first aid, passenger safety, and the latest road traffic regulations.
In addition to that video conferencing lectures on road safety will be organized in schools and colleges to raise awareness among students. Public meetings at important locations will disseminate information about the Motor Vehicle Act to motorists.
Progress report to be submitted to Commissioner by Feb 20
"Special inspections will be conducted on vehicles to address factors leading to accidents. This includes checking for overload, proper reflectors, functioning vehicle lights, and preventing illegal passenger traffic. Motor driving schools will also undergo quality inspections. The Public Works Department will contribute by providing speed breakers, rumbler strips, danger boards, reflector installations, and necessary road markings at black spots identified in the district," said an official adding that a comprehensive completion report will be compiled, detailing activities undertaken during the campaign, including eye examinations, distribution of reflectors, books, leaflets, posters/banners, speeches, and participation in various educational activities. The progress report will be submitted to the Commissioner by February 20, 2024.
The recent NCRB data for 2022 highlights concerning trends in highway accidents across India, with a majority (90,663 out of 4,46,768) occurring between 6pm and 9pm. Rural areas accounted for 59.7% of crashes, with speeding contributing to nearly 58%, and dangerous/careless driving or overtaking responsible for 26%. Maharashtra ranked third in road accidents for the year 2022.
However, there's a glimmer of improvement in 2023 for Maharashtra, witnessing a slight decrease in road crash fatalities (15,009 deaths in 34,114 accidents) compared to 2022 (15,224 deaths in 33,383 accidents). "Efforts are underway to reduce crashes on the state's highways and achieve a 50% reduction in fatalities well before the Centre's 2030 deadline," said an official.
When connected Mohammed Afzal, a noted road transport expert, said, "I truly believe that Road Safety is 365 days issue and therefore it should not be celebrated only for a week, a fortnight or one month only."
"I personally feel that people working on the issue of Road Safety should be involved during policy making so that different ideas coming in from people thinking differently will definitely benefit the cause of road safety" further," added Afzal.