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Wednesday , 17 April 2024

Twin Approaches to Safety


A strong-willed, hands-on approach along with technology goes a long way to enforce discipline on roads to reduce accidents and fatalities and improve safety. The panelists for the session on Emerging Technologies for Road Safety and Enforcement Challenges at the Smart Mobility Conference held in October, Ashish Srivastava, Additional Secretary IT and Science & Technology, Uttarakhand Government; Akhilesh Srivastava, World Economic Forum – Leading Road Safety 2.0 in India; Paresh Kumar Goel, Director (Transport & IC), Ministry of Road Transport & Highways; Satyendra Garg, Retd. Former DGP, A&N Islands: Joint Secretary North East – Ministry of Home Affairs; Dr. Neelima Chakrabarty, Sr. Principal Scientist & Head (Traffic Safety & Engineering Division), CSIR-Central Road Research Institute; Dr. Gitakrishnan Ramadurai, Professor – Transportation Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering, and Robert Bosch Centre for Data Science and AI, IIT Madras discussed the twin approaches and concluded that one cannot be effective without the other and both are required to work in tandem to reduce traffic violations.

Till the time autonomous vehicles which can automatically maneuver and brake come into the scene, we shall require enforcement and off-the-vehicle solutions. Enforcement on the road infrastructure will be supported by ITS solutions. We also need small, impactful steps which can reduce fatality and accidents immediately because that is the need of hour. 

Akhilesh Srivastava

World Economic Forum

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has taken steps to spread awareness about safe traffic, sensitize drivers to avoid road accidents and prevent unfit vehicles and unskilled drivers on the road. It has issued a notification GSR 575(E) dated 11th August, 2021 for Electronic Monitoring and Enforcement of Road Safety. The rules specify detailed provisions for placement of electronic enforcement devices including speed camera, closed-circuit television camera, speed gun, body wearable camera, dashboard camera, Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), and weigh in motion (WIM). The amended Motor Vehicles Act of 2019 provides for strict penalties for ensuring compliance. Enforcement will be done with use of technology. The rules also provide for clauses related to unskilled drivers and revocation or disqualification of driving licence, and driver refresher training courses.

AI and Data Science:

Every year there are about 1.5 lakh fatalities on Indian roads. On further analysis, it was found that 74% of the fatalities have occurred due to over-speeding by drivers. Other factors include drunken driving, wrong-side driving and red-light jumping. Keeping road safety in mind, the MVA introduced the provision for electronic enforcement in 2019 followed by GSR two years later. The central government would formulate the rules and state governments would implement them.

Data from advanced countries also show that in 70% of road accidents, the fault lies with the driver. This is a universal statistic. The question lies in whether accidents are equally distributed in all parts of the road network for the same driver. Studies show that accidents are concentrated in certain locations: more on highways, at junctions and black-spots. This confirms there are other factors which make the driver’s behaviour riskier. Data science gets into the more confounding factors that lead to accidents. The iRAD database records accidents in most states. Prior to iRAD, accident recording was done manually through FIRs, a rich source of data. Applying AI’s ‘large language models’ that use natural language processing to analyse voluminous sets of textual and verbal data from FIRs, one could come up with very specific causes of accidents and remedial measures to address them.

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