The fifth regional conference of International Road Federation (IRF), India held at New Delhi in November arrived at many far-reaching recommendations on road safety. The significance of these recommendations can be gauged from the fact that these were called for by the Parliament of India within three days of the conclusion of the conference.
Some of the recommendations finalised at the conference: Since 2011-2020 has been proclaimed as the Decade of Action for Road Safety by the UN General Assembly and since road fatalities are high in India, the Prime Minister must set up a Cabinet Committee with the Cabinet Ministers of Road Transport and Highways, Health, Education, and Information and Broadcasting for issuing policy directions and instructions, and for monitoring the implementation of the actions with regards to Road Safety; As the annual loss due to road accidents is almost 2% of GDP, the Planning Commission must allocate a non-lapsable grant of र5000 crore every year as Road Safety Fund (to be administered by Road Safety Board); Autonomous Road Safety Board must be established at the Centre and similar boards must be established at the state level which can be funded by the Central Road Fund and Plan Funds; As per World Bank norms, at least 10% of the project cost should be earmarked as a separate budget for road safety features; and for determining viability of projects, for implementation under BOT / DBFO basis, the project cost should include the cost of essential safety measures like vehicular and pedestrian safety / animal underpasses / overpasses, services roads and other safety features, as per IRC Manual. Any other safety features as considered necessary on case to case basis could be funded directly by the Government from earmarked Road Safety Funds.
Apart from this, it was recommended to approve and implement the Motor Vehicles Act soon with necessary enabling clauses empowering the State governments for enhancing the penalties for violations linked to WPI. The recommendations also included the enactment of the regulation that makes wearing of helmets compulsory for the driver and pillion rider of all motorised two wheelers in all the states (both in rural and urban areas) without any exception. Likewise, wearing of seat belts was sought to be made compulsory for drivers and passengers of all four-wheelers. It was also recommended that for red-light violations, over-speeding and lane-driving violations, enforcement measures must be made stricter with the use of advanced technology. This recommendation emphasised upon the increased use of ITS. It was also decided that each State should take up one road (of about 50-100km) as a model road with all safety features, required for a forgiving road. All roads in the country must be provided with road signs and lane markings in accordance with IRC guidelines and MoRT&H specifications.
One highlight of the conference was the recommendation that a national award be instituted for the Parliamentarian whose performance with regard to road safety in his/her constituency is found excellent and outstanding.