Road Safety: What is it and why is it important? What are the basic traffic rules

Cyrus Mistry who died in a car accident due to neglecting road safety protocols is a recent example of why following the rules are important.

Road accidents are quite common in India. Despite the government’s best efforts to spread awareness regarding road safety measures, people still don’t heed the advice. The direct result of this is an increase in the number of road accidents, as well as the severity. Recently, business tycoon Cyrus Mistry, the former chairperson of Tata Group and a well-known personality in the country lost his life in a car accident and the simple reason behind this was because of not wearing a seat belt.

Cyrus Pallonji Mistry, an Indian-born Irish businessman lost his life in a dreadful road accident on September 4, 2022. Mistry and his fellow passenger in the back seat, Jahangir Pandole died on the spot due to the impact of the crash. Since they were not wearing seatbelts, they must have been catapulted forward with a very high velocity when the car came to a sudden halt owing to the impact. According to reports, the car was also speeding, which makes the impact velocity even higher.

It should be noted that people often tend to think that passengers in the back seat are in less danger and neglect to wear seat belts. However, while the passengers in the front who were wearing seat belts are undergoing treatment, the passengers in the back seat were killed on the spot.

Now we shouldn’t explain why wearing a seat belt and following safety measures while driving is important! Today in this article we shall take you through the basics of essential safety measures that mustn’t be avoided while driving.

Data related to road accidents in India

According to the data published in statista.com, every hour around 17 accident-related deaths occur in the country. In 2020 alone, the number of fatalities due to road accidents in India was reportedly nearly 132 thousand. While India only has one percent of the world’s vehicle population, it accounts for nearly six percent of global road traffic incidents. Moreover, almost 70 percent of accidents involve young Indians.

In 2018, mostly two-wheelers were involved in fatal road accidents across the country. Most of the accidents also occurred at T-junctions that year.

The major reasons for such a staggeringly high number of accidents include reasons like over-speeding which include fast and risky maneuvers, illegal street racing, and fewer cops that allows people to disregard traffic rules. Poorly maintained roads also contribute to the high number of accidents.

Additionally, 65 percent of the road accidents seem to occur on straight roads and a major bulk of the accidents- about 25 percent- happened on state highways.

According to National Crime Records Bureau, a majority of the road accidents, about 59.7 percent, were due to over-speeding, accounting for 87,050 deaths and injuries to 2.28 lakh persons. While over 1.55 lakh lives were lost in road crashes across India in 2021, dangerous or careless driving or overtaking contributed to 25.7 percent of road accidents that caused 42,853 deaths and injuries to 91,893 persons.

Basic Measures For Road Safety While Driving

For Cars:

  • Seatbelt: Wearing a seat-belt is of utmost importance. While most people are aware that the driver and the passenger in the front seat need to wear a seat belt, the rear passengers often neglect this simple rule. It is important to remember that if the seatbelt is not worn, the airbags won’t open during an accident, thereby causing injury or even death. The airbags are Supplementary Restraint System or ‘SRS’, while the primary restraint system is the seatbelts.
  • Avoid Distractions: It is important to focus completely on the road while driving. Any distractions while driving could prove to be fatal. Things like taking phone calls while driving or playing music very loudly should be avoided as they tend to distract the driver. Passengers should also try to not disturb the driver with unnecessary comments that might make them look away from the road.

For Bikes: 

  • Helmet: What seatbelts are for cars, helmets are for bikes. Even though wearing a helmet for an extended period might be uncomfortable, it is a literal lifesaver. A helmet saves riders on the bike not only in case of an accident, but also from wind blasts on the face as well as blocks impurities from getting into the eyes, nose, or mouth. In the case of bikes, both the rider and the pillion must wear helmets for their safety, as there are no other safety features in a bike that could break their fall in case of an accident.
  • Avoid Sudden Maneuvers: One major advantage of two-wheelers over four-wheelers is that two-wheelers can squeeze into much smaller spaces. While this is convenient in places with narrow lanes or less accessibility, trying to utilize this in traffic can prove to be fatal. Sudden maneuvering and shifting lanes without proper signaling are major causes of bike accidents. It should always be kept in mind that it is important to use proper signals while shifting lanes or crossing the road when on two-wheelers.

General Road Safety Instructions:

  • Never Drink and Drive: Drinking and driving should be avoided at all costs. Not just alcohol, rather driving under the influence of any substance should be avoided. Being under the influence of any substance reduces the ability to judge various obstacles on the road, and the risk of accidents increases manifolds. The reaction time also slows down considerably when someone is under the influence of intoxicating substances.
  • Respect Speed Limit: Another factor that played a major role in Mistry’s death was that the car he was in was going way beyond the speed limit. According to a police officer, the stretch of the highway they were travelling on has a maximum speed limit of 80kmph. Even otherwise, the highways have a maximum speed limit of 100kmph. However, according to preliminary reports, the car involved in the accident was way over the speed limit, going at speeds of around 150kmph.
  • Respect Traffic Signals: It should always be remembered that traffic rules and signals are made for the safety of the people. Obeying traffic rules can help save the life of not just the people driving vehicles on the roads, but the pedestrians as well. Respecting the traffic lights and other signs and signals should be a priority for anyone driving on the road. Also it’s quite important for all to acquire knowledge about every single traffic signal before driving.
  • Maintain The Vehicle: All types of vehicles should always be maintained well. Owners should always ensure that they are prompt with the maintenance of their vehicles. Ill-maintained vehicles can cause harm by stopping suddenly, or due to a certain part failing, which could render the vehicle uncontrollable, thus causing road accidents.
road safety
Road Safety Image Credits: Cars24.com

Reaction Of People 

Following the death of Cyrus Mistry because of the road accident, many eminent people have taken to social media to express their views of fatalities that can occur due to not wearing seatbelts and not following the traffic rules.

Notable industrialist and Chairman of Mahindra Group Anand Mahindra took to Twitter to remind people that not wearing seatbelts could affect family members as well. He also pledged to wear seatbelts himself.

Prominent actor and social activist Sonu Sood also sent out a tweet to ask people to remember that a seat belt on the rear is just as important as a seat belt on the front.

Noted filmmaker Hansal Mehta shared a story of his youth on Twitter, where he told how he was saved from certain death because he had his seatbelt on.

Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, who was speaking on September 5, 2022, at the IAA’s Global Summit – Nations As Brands explained that to improve road safety, it was important to change the mindset of the average people. He also stated that four chief ministers he had traveled with in the past avoided wearing seatbelts. Refusing to say their names, he said that they had put a clip in place so that the signal for the seatbelt did not go off. He added that he ensured he had the seatbelt on before the car started, and has also banned the manufacturing of such clips. “Forget the cars of common people, I had traveled in the cars of four chief ministers — don’t ask me the names. I was in the front seat and found that there was a clip so that it does not make any sound when there is no belt. I asked the drivers where the belts were and made sure that I wear the seat belt before the car started,” Nitin Gadkari said. “Now I have banned the manufacturing and sales of such clips.”

Watch the complete interview here.

Dr. Sudhir Mehta, Chairman & Managing Director of Pinnacle Industries, EKA (Electric Vehicles) posted a video on Twitter on September 5, 2022, to demonstrate the effect of not wearing seatbelts. He mentioned in the caption how the Cyrus Mistry incident was a morbid reminder about how seatbelts save lives. He also pleaded with people to take a pledge to ensure all the possible safety measures, from wearing seatbelts and helmets to securing babies and kids while driving, to save lives.

The accompanying videos were demos of how the body is affected when a car gets into an accident with and without a seatbelt, both in the front and the rear. Another video showed a person wearing a belt who had a child sitting on their lap without a seatbelt. The difference in how a crash affected the two was rather evident.

Importance of Road Safety

The death of Cyrus Mistry should be a brutal reminder that the traffic rules that have been put in place are always in the interest of public. Following these simple rules can save not just lives of the vehicle riders, but also pedestrians. The rules that have been made to save lives should not be avoided just because there is scarcity in the number of cops deployed to monitor the implementation. After all, rules are for the safety of the public using the roads. Even though the infrastructure of the roads is not always up to the mark, it should be kept in mind that one must always do their best to avoid causing serious harm to themselves and others as well.

Traffic rules are also important to ensure a smooth flow of traffic. Ignoring the rules might cause problematic traffic jams that could disrupt the schedule of too many people, and may cause accidents as well.

Children must be made aware of traffic rules from a younger age and the habit of following these rules so that it comes naturally to them, and they keep following the same even when they are grown up.

Road safety should not be an afterthought for people. Wearing helmets and seat-belts should not be just for avoiding a hefty fine by the cops. It is a priority and should always be treated as such.

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