In an Industry talk session, Bharat Kalaskar, Dy Commissioner, Road Safety of Government of Maharashtra spoke to Prajakta Chavan Rane on the road safety initiatives and the headroom for improvement. 


Q. Though road safety is part of the school curriculum, we don’t see the desired results on ground zero. As the number of road accidents minor or major continue to rise in Maharashtra, what is your take on it?

A. ‘Road Safety’ education at all levels is necessary. The information can vary as per the grades, but it should be mandatory. Generally, people learn about traffic rules, only while applying for a learner’s license, but they become road users much before that. Pedestrian fatalities in India are nearly 20 per cent. This can be curbed by simply abiding by the traffic laws and using footpaths, underpasses, and zebra crossings. We need to inculcate good habits among children at a young age, and disciplined use of roads is one of them. We need to catch them young, that’s why Road Safety should be mandatory in schools.


Q. Is there a need for more sensitisation programmes among school students? How do we implement these successfully?

A. Over 50 per cent of traffic accident fatalities are in the 15-45 age group, especially those using two-wheelers. So there is definitely a need to sensitise two-wheeler riders, and college-going students on ‘Road Safety. You can include it as an optional, or compulsory subject in the curriculum, projects themed around ‘Road Safety’ should be given to the youths so that they understand the importance of

the issue.


Q. Road Safety needs for rural, urban, and smaller towns are different. How do we address it from an educational point of view?

A. Vehicular traffic and commuting needs are different in urban and rural areas, and so is the education about road safety. For example, in cities, most students go to school, in school buses, or private cars, while in rural areas they cycle or walk to school. So theoretical and practical knowledge should be combined to train the students depending on their geographical location, but it has to be imparted starting from the school level itself.


Q. Maharashtra does have some traffic parks in cities like Nashik and Pune. Do you think we need more infrastructure, to sensitise the next generation on ‘Road Safety’?

A. The best traffic park has been constructed by Nashik Municipal Corporation, with the initiative by Nashik First, a citizen’s initiative. A lot of school and college students come there and get trained on the track at Traffic Park. Nashik’s traffic park module should be replicated all over Maharashtra. Since the opening of this Traffic Park, we have indeed seen an improvement in the traffic of Nashik city. Discipline among citizens including ‘Road Safety or other traffic norms will not come in a day, it would take time and such infrastructure makes a major contribution to bringing it.


Q. Is there any other initiative in the pipeline to enhance road safety in Maharashtra?

A. We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with seven Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) to work on different factors of road safety. We are working on it and it will be rolled out in phases. ACI


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