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Use of helmets, seat-belts should be as normal as brushing teeth, says expert

Andrew Udall has visited several developed and developing countries with the highest incidences of road accidents and deaths, with India among them.

Written by Srinath Rao | Mumbai |
May 1, 2017 2:13:48 am
road safety, helmet on bikes, mumbai traffic police, mumbai traffic police training expert, andrew udall, global road safety partnership, india news, mumbai news, indian express In Mumbai to train traffic cops, Andrew Udall says he wants to see 90% motorists wearing helmets. Kevin Dsouza

Wearing helmets and seat-belts should be as normal as brushing your teeth every morning. You shouldn’t have to think about it,” says the latest expert brought in from abroad to train the Mumbai Traffic Police. Visits to India and the developing world in general always leave Andrew Udall in shock. The retired chief inspector of the West Mercia Police in England’s Midlands can never get over the erratic compliance of traffic rules. “In Mumbai, I’ve observed that a lot of people do not wear helmets but do stop at red lights. In Bandung (Indonesia), it’s the other way around,” he laughs.

In his capacity as a consultant for the Switzerland-based Global Road Safety Partnership, Udall (53) has visited several developed and developing countries with the highest incidences of road accidents and deaths, with India among them.

“For me, the biggest shock in developing countries is that not many vehicles stop at pedestrian crossings. In Mumbai, Shanghai, Bandung, it’s the all the same. You won’t see that happen say in London or Paris or Germany. It is just a cultural issue but I don’t understand why it is like that in Asian countries,” he says, while speaking to The Indian Express.

Udall was in Mumbai last week for a three-day training seminar at the Byculla traffic training institute, funded by the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety.

Prior to beginning training, Udall visited Mumbai two years ago to understand the city’s road infrastructure and traffic management. “I had to understand the traffic police’s command structure, its funding, what equipment it possesses, whether it conducts drink driving operations and investigates accidents,” he says.

In day-long sessions between Tuesday and Thursday, Udall spoke about communication skills, dealing with confrontation and checkpoint (nakabandi) configuration among other issues. Most of his effort was directed at ensuring strict enforcement of existing rules and his number one target was compliance of helmet rule.

“I gave some global statistics about helmet wearing, like the fact that you are 70 per cent more likely to suffer a brain injury during an accident if you don’t wear a helmet,” Udall says.

He has laid down a standard operating procedure for traffic checkpoints, which in the future will be manned by more police personnel. “Officers are intimidated when a crowd gathers around a driver and they are outnumbered. You need to have more people at checkpoints so that they don’t feel outnumbered,” says the expert.

Udall is in favour of a no-tolerance approach by the police towards enforcing traffic rules. “When I come back in five years, I would want to see 90 per cent of motorists wearing helmets. With strong enforcement, I would like to see a reduction in deaths on the road,” he says.

After 30 years in the West Merica Police, Udall has seen senseless deaths closely. “I’ve been in the sharp end in scraping bodies off the road. It is a nasty, messy, upsetting experience. You never get hardened as a traffic officer, it is upsetting each time,” he says.

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