September 11, 2021 11:05:45 pm
The government will make airbags compulsory for all cars, Union Minister for Road Transport Nitin Gadkari said on Saturday as he launched iRASTE — a two-year pilot project aimed to enhance road safety in Nagpur and reduce fatality.
A collaborative initiative developed by Intel India, IIIT Hyderabad, Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), Mahindra & Mahindra and Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC), iRASTE — an acronym for Intelligent Solutions for Road Safety through Technology and Engineering –leverages the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to achieve the desired goal.
Speaking on the occasion, Gadkari said, “The unique initiative will try to bring down fatality on Nagpur roads by 50 per cent. The drive would then be extended to other cities of India.”
He said, “Annually, India loses about 1.5 lakh lives every year in road accidents. Nagpur loses 250 lives in road accidents every year, at the rate of eight deaths per 1 lakh population, which is four times that of Mumbai.”
Pointing out that the number of accidents has gone up in Nagpur during Covid-19 pandemic, Gadkari said this was not a good sign for either the officials or for him. This has to be addressed on priority, he added.
Gadkari further said, “Our priority should be how to prevent accidents. As the minister concerned, I have also failed in this. But officials, particularly engineers of NMC, Nagpur Improvement Trust and National Highways Authority of India should be doing immediate analysis of why a particular accident has occurred. But there is no sensitivity and initiative regarding this (among them). They will have to be more sensitive and will have to make effort to prevent accidents. The stakeholders in this regard, including the police, lack coordination among themselves, which leads to lot of problems. So, coordination, cooperation and communication are of vital importance among all stakeholders.”
He added, “The system that doesn’t work must be thrown out.”
Asking the stakeholders to take onboard his OSD (Officer on Special Duty) Balasaheb Theng, he said, “Half of your work will be done just by use of my name. When it will be known that I am reviewing the project, the system will pick up speed of international standard. If there is anyone who is slacking, then I won’t leave him without a bashing.”
Gadkari said that generally the driver gets the blame for mishaps. “He is a poor man so he is blamed for it when there are many other things involved in a mishap,” Gadkari said. “Economy cars are not fitted with airbags as if the lives of their owners are less important than those of high-end car users. So, we will be making airbags compulsory for all cars,” he said.
The iRASTE initiative focuses on three crucial areas – vehicle safety, mobility analysis and road infrastructure safety. As a first step, the fleet of NMC vehicles would be equipped with Advanced Driving Assistance Systems (ADAS), which will provide alerts to drivers and improve their performance. It will also have a Collision Avoidance System (CAS). Mobility analysis will continuously monitor dynamic risks of the entire road network to define grey and black spots – areas that are high risk or accident-prone.
Shekhar Mande, Director General, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), said, “I am glad to note that CSIR-CRRI, a pioneer in introducing road safety audit programmes on national and state highways and having completed the road safety audit of almost 9000 km, will be providing necessary technical guidance in identifying accident-prone locations and also evaluate the drivers’ behaviour before and after installation of CAS in their vehicles.”
While Intel India will provide ADAS technology, IIIT Hyderabad will address population scale road safety through INAI (Intel AI) Center for Advanced AI research. Mahindra & Mahindra will conduct road safety, public awareness programmes and driver training.