Towards complete road safety management
India’s highways are increasingly becoming killing fields. The country has one of the highest rates of
road accidents in the world with about 500,000 accidents a year. Some 130,000 people lose their lives
each year, and another 500,000 or so are injured. In fact, more lives are lost in road accidents in India than in epidemics, natural calamities or wars put together. Within India, Tamil Nadu has recorded one of the fastest increases in the number of vehicles on the roads and the maximum number of fatalities in the country. About 150 accidents take place per day on average, claiming around two lives every hour.
In April 2007, Tamil Nadu became the first state in the country to announce a Road Safety Policy. This was followed, in 2009, by a Road Safety Action Plan. As part of the Action Plan, an easy-to-use bilingual software package - known as the Road Accident Data Management System (RADMS) - was developed, with the help of an international consultant, under the World Bank-supported Tamil Nadu Road Sector Project. The GIS-based RADMS software geographically maps all road accidents that take place on Tamil Nadu’s national and state highways, as well as on urban and district roads. The system identifies the most accident-prone spots and displays crash trends and other information at the click of a mouse. The RADMS software, developed after detailed consultations between the police, transport and highways departments, has been helping the authorities analyze the ‘how’, ‘where’ and ‘why’ of road accidents, and enabling them to plan and implement remedial measures. In the two years since the system has been operational, nearly 3000 accident-prone spots have been identified. The implementation of road safety measures based on this analytical data has brought down the number of accident fatalities in Tamil Nadu from 13.39 for every 10,000 vehicles in 2006 to 10.09 in 2010, exceeding the targets set by the state.
The RADMS software, developed at a cost of Rs. 2.20 crores (about $500,000), has been deployed at all the state’s 1,400 police stations and personnel at each station have been trained in its use. While similar software was first used in Kerala, Tamil Nadu is the first state to deploy it extensively. The software is constantly being improved. It is planned to provide each police station with a hand-held GPS device to enable personnel to enter the details at the accident site itself. It is also planned to link the system with medical facilities across the state for quick attention to accident victims. The creation of a national road accident database along these lines can help to markedly improve road safety across the country.