Ever had a harrowing experience when crossing a road? How about a terrifying one when your vehicle hits a pothole in a dark road with no lights at night? What about a near-miss with someone casually coming down the wrong way in a one way?
All of these are common experiences for us Indians. The almost ever-present danger on our streets might seem inevitable, but even this is changing for the better.
Interestingly, there are quite a few parameters—apart from unprofessional driving and lack of awareness—when it comes to road safety.
These could range from motor laws, traffic control, pedestrian rights to lighting & maintenance, heavy vehicle management and cleanliness.
To understand how some of the major Indian cities fare in terms of citizens’ safety on roads and how situations can be improved, Maruti Suzuki took the lead and introduced a comprehensive Road Safety Index rating ten cities across India as part of the ‘Maruti Suzuki India Road Safety Mission’.
What Maruti Suzuki aim through this initiative is to set benchmarks across the nation in the field of road safety and subsequently realise the dream of ‘Happy Roads’ in India.
Here’s how each of the ten cities that were chosen for the Road Safety Index 2017 is making the roads for their citizens safer:
1. New Delhi
With excellent connectivity, wide and good-quality roads with well-maintained footpaths and an adequate number of subways and foot over bridges (FOB) — the national capital aces when it comes to ‘best and safe’ roads.
The city also has some very smart solutions – like energy-saving smart poles with air sensors, Wi-Fi connectivity and energy-saving LED lighting that automatically dim during non-peak traffic hours. Even facilities for the differently-abled in the metro rail and at tourist spots reflect the city’s conscious attempt to be inclusive.
The areas that Delhi can improve significantly include better traffic management, debris from projects on roads, and poor adherence to road safety rules by motorists.
The city scored the best for its public empathy towards the differently-abled via various facilities like special train compartments, reserved seats in buses, fare concessions, etc.
Mumbaikars love their celebrities, and various initiatives involving superstars like Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar are undertaken on a regular basis. Another noteworthy aspect is its excellent connectivity.
However, issues such as poor road conditions and illegal hawkers on roads and footpaths require fixing.
What stood out as the winning factors for Chennai was its rigorous night patrolling, well-lit roads, good connectivity and efficient emergency services, including an air-ambulance.
Besides, Chennai has designated parking areas on city roads, which prevent traffic jams caused due to illegal parking.
Areas for improvement include extreme traffic congestion, general cleanliness and a lack of lights in foot over-bridges (FOB) across the city.
Parks with a carbon-neutral solar lighting system, trident lights, strict implementation of rules, clean roads: Kolkata shines indeed. The city’s relentless efforts to make the roads safe for children deserve special mention.
Adequate wheelchairs and accessibility ramps at public places and puja pandals make Kolkata differently-abled friendly also.
Where the ‘City of Joy’ needs to up its game are areas like water logging, road infrastructure and illegal road encroachment.
Bengaluru is infamous for its traffic – and it is pretty terrible indeed. From massive debris on major roads and footpaths, an unending pothole menace to the inferior quality of roads and clumsy maintenance work, it is time that the Garden City takes safety seriously.
However, some of the good measures include two-wheeler ambulances, free travel in public transport for the visually impaired, and the implementation of ‘Enforcement Automation Centre’ – comprising of more than 150 cameras stationed at traffic signals.
Ahmedabad showcases how safe road infrastructure and awareness can make a drastic difference in lives.
Along with good medical facilities, across the city, the usage of public transport is widely encouraged with separate lanes for local buses. A special cab service catering to the physically disabled also functions.
What the Heritage City requires to work on is better traffic sense amongst residents. Many areas in the city were found to have inadequate lighting along with footpaths being encroached by the homeless as well.
Faring above most metropolitan cities in India, Most stretches in Pune are quite clean and free of construction debris or litter. The city also has an adequate number of safety sign boards, digital boards, and ‘no honking’ sign boards.
Civic authorities have implemented quite a few road centric schemes like dedicated bus corridors, covered bus stations, intelligent transit management systems and a ‘WalkSmart’ Policy for standardising pedestrian facilities.
Areas that Pune can significantly improve include road quality, street lighting and garbage disposal.
Indore is famous for its innovative road management initiatives like the use of plastic waste for construction of roads, covered dustbins and road painting contests.
Roads were generally in good conditions with zebra crossings and visual signages. Also, in place of conventional streetlights, the city is lit with power saving LED lights. Its residential colonies and public gardens are lit with central and high mast lighting systems as well.
There are, however, specific areas that Indore must improve on – strict action against rule-breaking youngsters, better options for the differently-abled and stricter rules for school transportation.
Well-marked zebra crossings, checks on encroachments, good pedestrian facilities, underground SMART dustbins, solar-powered street lights and 250 CCTV cameras and speed detectors – Raipur has a remarkable road safety system that scores high on almost all parameters.
Not all is hunky dory though. Raipur can improve road safety awareness, impose stricter fines for traffic violations and garbage disposal.
Ranking last in almost all the parameters listed, Hyderabad has some of the unsafe road conditions across the country. A lot has to be worked upon by civic authorities to make the roads more citizen-friendly in Hyderabad.
However, some areas where it has fared satisfactorily include the implementation of an integrated traffic management system (HTRIMS) that enables automatic adjustment of signal timings based on traffic flow, pedestrian controlled signals and SMS-based alerts to the citizens.
Let’s hope the authorities are taking note while we pledge to do our own bit towards happier, safer Indian roads. For more information about the Maruti Suzuki’s initiative and the Road Safety Index click here.