As you are aware for the last 24 years , we at the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways with the cooperation of States and other stakeholders have been dedicating the first week every year as Road Safety Week. This year too we are observing the week urging people to ‘Stay alive, don’t drink and drive.’
We selected this theme to give special emphasis on spreading awareness against drunken driving. In the year 2011, 24,655 mishaps took place on roads due to drunken driving leaving 21,148 injured and loss of 10,553 precious lives .
Friends I will like to assert that though Road Safety is the responsibility of my Ministry but, it is an issue that can only be controlled when all stakeholders – State Government, Corporate houses, Auto industry and their associations, Universities, colleges, institutions, schools work together.
To make a sustainable and sizable difference in making our roads safer we need to increase our efforts and are doing so.
Friends few days back I wrote to all the Chief Ministers requesting them to make road safety a social movement in partnership with schools and universities.
We want to make people who use the road a part of this movement and seek their support to make our roads safer.
We will be soon initiating awards for recognizing individuals and institutions doing exemplary work in Road Safety at National, State & District levels.
Going beyond districts friends you will be aware that the accident rates is higher in rural India. I would like to assert that we have close to 30 lakh elected Panchayati Raj representatives. Through them, we can educate people in villages on safety issue. I am directing my ministry officials to publish booklets in local languages to spread the message.
Not just that we at the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways will soon be using information technology and social media tools seeking active participation of road users.
We want to take the road safety message far and wide. To begin with I will soon be interacting with road users using various communication tools specially Face Book and Twitter. I welcome your suggestions on what we can collectively do to make our roads safe.
Various studies show that driver’s fault accounts for more than 70 percent road accidents. To address this problem, we have set out to establish ten model Institutes of Driving Training and Research across the country in consultation with States.
These institutes will have world class infrastructure including driving tracks, modern equipment like simulators, innovative driving test system and hostel facilities.
Drivers coming out of such institutes will not only have adequate skill in driving but, will also be fully familiar with various road safety practices.
These Institutes will also provide qualified driver-trainers for the driving schools.
We propose to set up more such Institutes in various States during the 12th Five Year Plan.
Along with these institutes, we are also setting up ten fully automated model Inspection and Certification Centers in States for ensuring fitness of vehicles being used.
I will like to bring this to the notice of this august gathering that Children and the Youth are among the most vulnerable road users. The age group 15-24 years accounted for one third of total road accident casualties during the year 2011.
This emphasizes the need for a mass movement of awareness in partnership with schools and Universities to promote and inculcate safe driving and safe pedestrian habits.
Using this platform I urge all educational institutions to organize road safety activities and create opportunities for students to engage in road safety programmes.
Apart from spreading awareness and training drivers, we have brought before Parliament a Bill to amend the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 which will bring better discipline on the roads.
The Bill seeks to provide stringent penalties for various offences under the Act, including drunken driving, over-speeding and use of mobile phone while driving. An important feature of Bill is higher penalties for repeat offences.
Rajya Sabha has already passed the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2012. We expect it to be passed with the support of all parties by Lok Sabha during the next Budget Session.
The Ministry has identified 325 black spots in 13 States that account for 90 percent road accidents. We are now working at reducing the accidents in these spots.
We are also in process of creating National Road Safety and Traffic Management Board. This would be a dedicated agency to oversee road safety activities in the country and would have powers to issue guidelines on a wide range of issues concerning road safety.
Similarly, the process of formulating a pilot project on cashless treatment of road accident victims on the National Highways too is underway.
Our endeavourer is to address the problem of delay in providing first aid to accident victims, and shifting them to hospitals. Cashless scheme will also ensure that no accident victim is denied medical treatment during those crucial moments for want of money.
Friends, though we have assembled here at the culmination of the Road Safety Week 2013, let us all resolve that it will be a new beginning in renewing our efforts to contain road crashes.
I am fully confident that with the support of all stakeholders our efforts to make roads safe and develop sustainable road transport systems across the country is achievable.
Thank you, and drive safe.