safer roads in india with the safe system approach


India has one of the highest rates of road crash fatalities and injuries globally, with around 150,000 deaths and 500,000 injuries every year. Adopting the Safe System Approach can provide a guiding framework for India to work towards the vision of zero road deaths and serious injuries. Integrating the core principles and pillars of Safe System into the national road safety policies, programs and institutional mechanisms is crucial for success.

key principles of India
  1. Death and serious injury are unacceptable: The National Road Safety Policy should set the long-term goal of eliminating road crash fatalities and injuries rather than merely reducing them. Every life lost and serious injury suffered is unacceptable. This goal needs commitment from agencies like the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, the Traffic Police, the National Health Mission etc.
  2. Humans make mistakes: India’s high crash rates underline that road users will continue making mistakes leading to crashes. It is vital to design roads and vehicles to minimize the chances of death or grievous hurt when a crash happens. Enforcement can only go so far; the system must be proactive and forgiving.
  3. Shared responsibility: Stakeholders including road authorities like NHAI, PWDs, vehicle manufacturers, traffic police, the health sector and the public need to share responsibility for safety. The public also needs to support policies prioritizing safety over speed and convenience.
road safety pillars of india
  1. Safe Roads and Roadsides: Roads under agencies like NHAI, State PWDs etc. should incorporate star rating and assessment tools. Road signs, pedestrian facilities, clear zones, crash barriers etc. need design improvements nationwide.
  2. Safe Speeds: Speed audits should guide the setting of speed limits balancing safety, traffic flow and functionality. Speed-calming solutions and stronger penalties can improve compliance.
  3. Safe Road Users: Nationwide safety awareness programs should target pedestrians, cyclists, drivers etc. A Comprehensive Graduated Driving License system and training curriculum for commercial vehicle drivers should be implemented across India.1710494006204?e=1722470400&v=beta&t=OPp2 ZSRO6gaxqcS9mUpgyT3n ihGD4qU CgtBrVnhc
  4. Safe Vehicles: India should mandate compliance to essential vehicle safety standards like airbags, ABS, and CBS through the type approval process and strict Quality Control. NCAP testing protocols should address India-specific driving conditions and road user vulnerabilities better.
  5. Emergency Trauma Care: India needs integrated and efficient trauma care systems involving the network of ambulances, local trauma centers and regional hospitals. Better first responder training and DRS-1066 compliance monitoring are also essential.
  6. Effective Post-Crash Investigation & Reporting: Standard protocols for scientific crash investigation and integrated road accident database will provide insights on risks and targeted countermeasures.


The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways should lead efforts to unite stakeholders and formally integrate the Safe System approach within the National Road Safety Policy, state action plans, and relevant guidelines and programs. The five pillars of this approach should guide the creation of a comprehensive road safety strategy for India, centered on the principles of the Safe System.

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