How European Countries Around The World Reduced Road Accident Casualties
- Europe has put in stringent regulations to curb road accidents
- Features like automatic emergency calls have reduced road accidents
- India made crash testing mandatory in 2017
New Delhi: Killer roads in India are not a recent problem and despite the boom in urban infrastructure in the country, deaths caused due to road accidents continue to be one of the highest in the world. An estimated 400 people die daily on India’s roads alone and the annual death toll amounts to more than 1,50,000. Road accidents in India witness such large numbers due to variety of reasons, ranging from lack of proper pedestrian infrastructure, poor road design, low rates of penalty and even lower rates of convictions in hit and run cases. the Motor Vehicle Act (Amendment) Bill 2017, which is currently awaiting the Rajya Sabha’s nod, is an attempt to enforce stricter laws to make india’s roads safer.
If other countries are to go by, strict vehicular regulations play a significant role when it comes to road safety. European nations like Norway, Sweden and Switzerland all have less than 4 accidents per 1,00,000 people (in India it is 16.6) because of proper implementation of regulations that reduce deaths due to traffic accidents.
Europe’s Mandatory Safety Features
Europe’s success in curbing road accidents has been achieved by a series of mandatory safety features which every European nation adheres to. In December 2014, a major step was taken towards realising new road safety norms across the continent. The General Safety Regulations of 2014 directed vehicles across Europe to install electronic stability systems such as advanced emergency breaks in case of anyone suddenly coming in front of a moving car. The regulations have also made it mandatory for vehicles to have lane departure warning systems to reduce casualties. Driver seat belt reminder systems have also been made mandatory across Europe, a provision India can benefit from as well if made mandatory.
Deaths due to road accidents are also often caused by pedestrians coming in front of speeding cars and the cars’ inability to slow down on impact. Analysing over 500 such cases of pedestrian accidents in in the last 10 years, the European Commission made it mandatory for vehicles to adopt stability controls. These controls reduced the speed of a vehicle by 60 to 70 per cent once brakes were applied. The Commission also recommended in December 2016 that bonnets and fronts of cars be cushion covered so as to reduce the strength of any impact and cut down on the fatality caused by accidents. In 2017, a meeting convened by the European Commission said that all cars were expected to adhere to the recommendations by 2020.
Automatic Electronic Calls
Road accident deaths are often caused due to lack of emergency response in appropriate time, resulting in accident victims lying unattended for hours after the accident. The automatic electronic call feature in vehicles can help save lives due by cutting down the time to reach out to emergency services after an accident. Already recommended by the European Commission and in practice in some Australian countries, automatic electronic calls dial emergency numbers automatically when a vehicle meets with an accident. The Global Positioning System (GPS) feature of the car allows emergency services to seek out its location and reach the accident location. For a country like India where numerous road accident casualties are due to lack of timely access to emergency responses, such a system will indeed be helpful. In Europe, the vehicles will begin installing the technology from March 31, 2018.
Mandatory Crash Tests
Mandatory crash tests developed by the European Enhanced Vehicle-safety Committee began its trial runs in 2006 and these were made compulsory for vehicle manufacturers as a part of the 2014 regulations. As per the regulations, all soon-to-be launched vehicles must undergo crash tests which determine the ability of a car to withstand damage on the front and sides following an accident and the damage incurred by passengers. Based on a car’s ability to withstand crashes, a star rating system is assigned so that buyers of a car can determine its safety features by taking a look at the rating.
The above mentioned regulations are good examples of how safety in vehicles and for pedestrians has been made mandatory across the world to cut down on the number of casualties. These regulations also call for technological development, such as enabling GPS systems in cars and installation of automatic e-calling systems. It must be noted that these regulations all focus on preventing accidents or lessening the damage done by them, a lesson still in its nascent stage in India. In October 2017, mandatory crash tests were introduced in India and were made compulsory for new cars, hoping that the regulation will make some difference in the large number of deaths in road accidents. Given the staggering numbers of road accidents in India and the consequent deaths, there are only positives for India to take from regulations which have successfully curbed road accident fatalities abroad.