PRESS RELEASE: At India Vision Zero, Participants Discuss Ideas and Challenges to Reduce Road Fatalities in Maharashtra
5 June 2017, Mumbai: India Vision Zero (IVZ) 2017, a two-day conference to discuss the pathway to road safety reforms in India, kicked off in Mumbai on Monday. Jointly organized by Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety, the state Ministry of Transport and WRI India Ross Centre, the conference brought together stakeholders from the Centre, states and cities, urban planners, sector experts and members of the civil society, to debate on strategies to make road safety an integral part of infrastructural growth.
Making a strong commitment to reduce road fatalities in the state, the Government of Maharashtra announced its decision to implement a Road Safety Action Plan for the next few years, at the conference. According to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed, WRI India will support Maharashtra in developing its action plan – which would entail a detailed analysis of accident trends, critical assessment of institutional mechanisms and current and past road safety initiatives. The Action Plan will identify measures to improve institutional processes for effective road safety management, identify key road safety projects and make recommendations for the disbursement of the state road safety fund.
State Minister of Transport Diwakar Raote, State Principal Secretary (Transport) Manoj Saunik and Director of Global Road Safety Program, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Kelly Larson, spoke at the event. Praveen Gedam, state Transport Commissioner, who was unable to attend the conference, conveyed his support to the cause through a message: “Maharashtra is committed to adopt the principles of Vision Zero. For the state, road safety must take priority over all other traffic challenges.” IVZ was first launched in 2016 in Odisha. In April 2017, Haryana became the first state in India to commit to it and establish a multi-pronged, multi-stakeholder intervention to combat road accidents. The move also contributed to India’s commitment as part of the Brazillia Declaration which envisions reducing road traffic deaths by 50 percent by 2020.
IVZ is based on four primary principles:
• Safety first: Protecting human life is more important than all other traffic-related challenges
• Forgiving systems: Fail-safe roads and vehicle systems are essential to minimize fatalities due to human error
• Shared responsibilities: Transport providers and authorities are as responsible for road safety as the road users
• Coordinated action: All stakeholders must work under a coordinated strategy to improve road safety.
Binoy Mascarenhas, Senior Manager, Urban Transport and Road Safety, WRI, explained that IVZ follows the international Vision Zero approach to road safety, which prioritizes human life above all other traffic related issues. The Vision Zero approach to road safety was introduced in Sweden in 1997. The approach uses the basic principle that if transportation systems are designed to be safe for the most vulnerable user, then they will be safe for all users. By 2000, the country had reduced its road fatality numbers by half. In India, in the past decade, over a million people have died due to road traffic crashes, accounting for more than 10 percent of global numbers. A majority of the victims are in the age group of 15 to 45 years. Data indicates that India loses around two to three percent of its GDP owing to road traffic crashes as fatalities or serious injuries result in people leaving the workforce.
Building the connection between road safety and sustainable mobility, Dr. O.P Agarwal, CEO, WRI India, pointed out, “A robust action plan that accommodates principles of sustainable mobility and good urban design are of primary importance to build safe and equitable roads. It is heartening that states like Odisha, Haryana and Maharashtra are showing interest in this vision.”
Road traffic fatalities are also in the rise world over, leading the United Nations to declare 2011-2020 as the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety. Kelly Larson, Director, Global Road Safety Program, Bloomberg Philanthropies, explained, “Road traffic fatalities are the 10th leading cause of death globally. Each year, more than 1.25 million people are killed and up to 50 million injured on the world’s roads.” She further said, “Since 2007, Bloomberg Philanthropies has committed $259 million dollars in low- and middle-income countries and cities to reduce the road traffic fatalities and injuries. By working with national and local governments, and international and local road safety organizations to strengthen road safety legislation and implement evidence-based interventions, Bloomberg Philanthropies estimates over 125,000 lives have been saved.”
Other speakers at the program included: Manoj Saunik, state Principal Secretary (Transport), Ranjit Deol, VC & MD Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation, Sanjay S Deshmukh, Additional Municipal Commissioner, MCGM, among others.
Milind Soman, Model, Actor and Brand Ambassador of India Vison Zero, conveyed through a video message: “A safe city is a healthy city and safe infrastructure is the building block of any livable or smart city. It is important that the citizens, city agencies and stakeholders embrace the philosophy of Vision Zero and work towards creating infrastructure that is safe for all.”
For further information, contact: Nitya Kaushik, Communications, WRI India: 9819902763, firstname.lastname@example.org