Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday said his target is to reduce the number of road accidents and resultant deaths by 50 per cent before 2024 and that efforts are also being made to improve the quality of roads. Gadkari, who is known for his frank views, also lamented that cooperation from insurance companies with respect to road safety activities is negligible.
He made the remarks while addressing a virtual event organised by industry body Ficci. “Around 1.5 lakh persons die due to road accidents (every year)… My internal target is before 2024, we will reduce deaths and accidents by 50 per cent," the Road Transport and Highways Minister said.
There is a shortage of 22 lakh drivers. So, the government aims to set up 2,000 driving schools, especially in backward districts, the minister said, adding that his ministry is also working to improve the quality of roads. Around 50 per cent of road accidents are due to road engineering problems, he pointed out.
Noting that road safety is a public health issue across the world, Gadkari said that his ministry is making an intelligent traffic system. Besides, there are plans to set up an independent Road Safety Council that will be headed by a retired IAS officer. “Insurance companies are direct beneficiaries of a saved life. Hence, they can extend their cooperation for various road safety activities… but the cooperation from the insurance companies is very negligible, and cooperation from government insurance companies is zero," he said.
Emphasising that road safety cause is an important issue, the minister said, “you are going to benefit, we are expecting your 100 per cent positive attitude". The minister said that Intel has approached him with innovative solutions to avoid collision between vehicles and rash driving on city roads. “We are planning to start the pilot project of this technology very soon," he added.
Further, Gadkari said his ministry is striving hard to reduce road accident deaths by restructuring and strengthening four ‘Es’ of road safety — Engineering (including road and automobile engineering), Economy, Enforcement and Education. He also suggested that the corporate world should carry out independent surveys to identify the reasons behind the accidents and a report may be submitted to the ministry.
Cooperation of NGOs, social organisations and universities is also needed for education and awareness, he said.