Speed thrills, but also kills: this sign is posted at almost every turn on national highways. Experts in Pune and across the country have urged that it is time to take cognisance of this message.
‘Managing Speed’, a new report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), released to coincide with the United Nations Road Safety Week from May 8-14, has stated that excessive or inappropriate speed contributes to one in every three road traffic fatalities worldwide. Measures to address this issue prevents road traffic deaths and injuries, makes populations healthier and cities more sustainable, said WHO.
While supporting the WHO’s call to “slow down, save lives”, the George Institute for Global Health-India has made a fervent plea — to take the measures to address speed outlined by WHO — seriously.
Globally, around 1.25 million people die every year on roads, and studies indicate that typically 40-50 per cent of drivers go over speed limits. Drivers who are male, young and under the influence of alcohol are more likely to be involved in speed-related crashes. Road traffic crashes remain the number one cause of death among young people aged 15-29 years.
According to data available with the WHO, only 47 countries follow one of the main speed management measures, implementing an urban speed limit of 50 km per hour or less, allowing local authorities to reduce these limits further on roads near schools, residences and businesses.
In India, according to police data from 2015, 43.7 per cent of total road crashes were due to overspeeding, which caused 60,969 deaths and injured 2,12,815 persons.
Dr J Jagnoor, head of the Injury division at the George Institute for Global Health-India, said these numbers tell us exactly why the focus needs to be on slowing down.
“Between 50 km per hour to 80 km per hour, the chances of death in case of a crash are increased from 20 per cent to as much as 60 per cent. If you do the maths, over 40,000 lives could have been saved in India in 2015 by just slowing down,” said Dr Jagnoor.
Prashant Inamdar, coordinator at Pune based Pedestrian First, said there were ‘3 Es’ to road safety — education, engineering and enforcement. “Our children should be made aware about road safety… so that they are the ones who tell their parents to wait at traffic signals and not violate rules. Modifying roads and enforcing speed limits are crucial to ensure road safety.”