ahmedabad need vision zero on road safety, now.
Ahmedabad, the commercial capital of Gujarat, has witnessed a disturbing increase in road accidents in recent years. The recent July 19 road accident at Iskcon flyover in the middle of the city has shook the conscience of citizens as a teenage driver of luxurious Jaguar car driving in high speed mowed down 9 people dead and 12 critically injured.
As per recent data by Ahmedabad police, the city reported 1,185 accident cases in 2020, and the number jumped to 1,433 in 2021. Unfortunately, these human made accidents took 744 lives in two years. Among the dead, 25% were pedestrians, and 43% were drivers of two-wheeled vehicles.
Walking has become a suicidal thing on city roads in absence of safe footpaths and traffic sense of vehicle drivers.
Road accidents are actually a culmination of a lot of administrative failures including our own “chalta hai” attitude. This escalating trend of road accidents not only poses a significant threat to public safety but also burdens the city’s resources and infrastructure.
Sadly, we are losing young lives on the road in their productive age. And to effectively address this critical issue, we must first delve into the data, road design & behaviour to understand the nature of accidents and identify areas that demand short term and long term solutions.
The frequency of road accidents and associated fatalities needs to be closely scrutinised to comprehend the extent of the problem, studying the time of day when most accidents occur, identifying accident-prone areas and intersections can help focus efforts on improving road infrastructure and traffic management at critical locations, types of vehicles involved, and nature of accident.
Ad-hoc solutions to address road safety issues have not worked. There is a need for Vision Zero on road safety like what Sweden did in the 1970s with the core principle that “no loss of life or serious injuries on the roads is acceptable.”
It is an opportune time for Ahmedabad to come up with Vision Zero strategy, focusing on a holistic approach that work on safe road design for all road users, speed calming measures, proper & uniform signages, road markings, vehicle safety, enforcement of traffic regulations, traffic crash management & investigation and continuous social behaviour change campaigns to minimise the consequences of human errors.
There is a lot of convergence required among government departments, education institutions, business associations, city planners, non-profit organisations & citizens in the city to address road safety issues in a sensitive and time bound manner.
Citizens should also come forward & amplify their voices for better & safe road infrastructure, support traffic police by following rules and by educating & sensitising themselves and others on road safety issues.
The question to authorities if not now, then when for vision Zero on road safety.