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Lessons from India Vision Zero: Towards Zero Traffic Deaths

On March 7, 2018, WRI India Ross Center organized an event under its India Vision Zero program in collaboration with Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety. The event titled "India Vision Zero: Towards Zero Traffic Deaths" convened stakeholders from diverse sectors such as the government, corporate, and non-profit to deliberate on the strategies and approaches for reducing road crash deaths and injuries in India. This note summarizes the discussions and deliberations of the event.

Key Takeaways

Inaugural session

  • Road crash investigation should transform from a regular crime investigation, which is focused on identifying the offender, to a forensic method, which is a scientific evaluation of the multiple causes of the crash.

  • Human behavioral science plays a significant role in crash investigation. There is a need for forensic evaluation of the behavior of drivers and other road users involved in a crash.

  • A larger focus has to be given to prevention rather than intervention (post-accident response) to be able to achieve the goal of zero road traffic deaths.

Session 1: Safety of public bus fleets

  • Visibility of the driver and open doors in buses are two significant issues resulting in death of vulnerable road users. Measures such as retrofitting standard-sized mirrors at BMTC and shifting to low-floor buses at DTC have helped reduce crashes.

  • Rigorous crash data collection is key to crash prevention. Maintaining a record of all crashes will help us take preventive measures against all crash scenarios.

Session 2: Role of corporates in advancing road safety

  • In Haryana, road safety measures led by NASSCOM Foundation in partnership with the State Government have shown results in 10 districts. Corporate collaboration and CSR investment have a large role to play in improving road safety.

  • Corporates such as Volvo, Toyota Kirloskar Motors, Bosch, and Shell have been able to improve safety through their signature safety initiatives. This was only possible by continually prioritizing safety over other parameters.

Summary of the discussions

Inaugural session:

The event was inaugurated with a welcome speech by Mr. Amit Bhatt. This was followed by a panel discussion with Mr. Ashok Anand, MD, NEKRTC, Ms. Cara Gizzi, VP, Education & Outreach, UL, Mr. Madhav Pai, Director of Sustainable Cities, WRI India, Mr. Amit Bhatt, Executive Director of Integrated Transport, WRI India, Mr. Suresh Sugavanam, VP & MD-- South Asia, UL.

The panel discussion was moderated by Mr. Amit Bhatt and focused on the strategies and approaches for moving towards zero traffic deaths. Mr. Madhav Pai discussed briefly about the need for a safe systems approach for reducing road crashes by stating examples of the progress made in cities such as New York, which have adopted the Vision Zero plan. Ms. Cara Gizzi then stressed upon the need for a scientific approach for analyzing road crashes in India and described about UL's efforts in improving road safety through community mobilization and education programs. Mr. Suresh Sugavanam quoted examples of success achieved in other countries in the area of fire safety through sustained approaches and the need for a focus on prevention rather than intervention (post-incident response) in order to reduce the probability of road crashes in India. Mr. Ashok Anand commented on the challenges faced by the bus transport agencies in India-- spanning driver training, crash investigation, attitudes of other road users etc.-in reducing crashes involving their fleets. The session was concluded by Mr. Amit Bhatt with a summary of key discussions.

Session 1: Safety of public bus fleets

The session was kick started with a short program video and a background presentation on the work done by WRI and UL on analyzing crash data from 6 SRTUs. Ms. Anusha Chitturi presented the scale of the analyses and the key crash patterns that emerged from the study. This presentation was followed by a roundtable discussion on the session topic. Mr. Pawan Mulukutla moderated the discussion by inviting stakeholders from the bus agencies to present their ideas on challenges and opportunities for improving safety of public bus fleets in India. This session saw active participation from representatives of public bus agencies: DTC (Delhi Transport Corporation), NEKRTC (North East Karnataka Road Transport Corporation), NWKRTC (North West Karnataka Road Transport Corporation), BMTC (Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation) and others like DIMTS (Delhi Integrated Multi-modal Transit System). Mr. Ravishankar Rajaram from JP research briefly presented about crash forensics and importance of bus design. The discussion primarily looked at the safety challenges from data collection, driver training to flaws in bus design and retrofitting.

Session 2: Role of corporates in advancing road safety

This session was kick started with a background presentation, which set the context of the discussion. Mr. Roshan Toshniwal shared a comparative study on policies of 12 corporates and the relevance of road safety for corporates. The presentation was followed by a roundtable discussion on the session topic. Mr. Binoy Mascarenhas moderated the discussion by inviting corporates to share their experiences in improving safety in their respective organizations/ companies. A presentation was made by Mr. Shrikant Sinha, CEO, Nasscom Foundation, about the role of the foundation in setting the Haryana Vision Zero in co-partnership with the state government. The session saw participation from corporates such as Shell India, Toyota, Volvo, Bosch and Ola cabs.


The sessions were concluded by Mr. Pawan Mulukutla, who thanked all the participants for attending the deliberation and sharing their insights. Mr. OP Agarwal, CEO, WRI India then addressed the gathering and provided some closing remarks.

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